Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
862. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of discussions at EU level to bring forward earlier payment for direct payments to farmers due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5934/20]
Given the current challenges relating to COVD 19, I am very aware of the importance of the financial support provided under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) for farmers. The deadline for submission of BPS applications was Friday 15 May, and I am happy to confirm that the expected number of applications was received by this deadline.
My Department is now preparing as a matter of priority for the processing of these applications for payment. Officials have also been engaging with the EU Commission to explore the possibility of flexibilities in relation to the payment of EU-funded support schemes such as the BPS, including the proposal to make advance payments under the BPS before the schedule of inspections required under EU legislation is completed. It has also been agreed at EU level to implement the higher BPS advance payment rate of 70% this year.
At present, under EU rules, the Basic Payment scheme payment can be made from 16 October. However, my Department will continue to engage at EU level to ensure that flexibilities are in place which accommodate the most efficient method of delivering payments to farmers in what is a very challenging situation for them.