Irwin says industry being strangled by SFP delay

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Saturday, February 4th, 2012
Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Stormont Agriculture Committee member Councillor William Irwin MLA has said growth in the farming industry is being strangled by the delays in processing £60million in Single Farm Payments. Councillor Irwin said he was concerned that the Minister was putting what he described as a “gloss” on the Department’s performance in payment processing and said the reality was “very different from the spin”. He stated, “Despite the gloss of the Minister’s statement that £234million has been paid out to farmers and 90% of payments have been made you have to realise that over £60million is still outstanding to farmers in Northern Ireland. This is something that I raised at this week’s committee and we must get past the ‘spin’ and look at the cold facts that a significant amount of money is still outstanding.” He added, “The total award in SFP to Northern Ireland is over £300million and despite what the Minister says the money outstanding to farmers represents 20% of this amount and that in my opinion is a worrying situation for the industry. What is also a worry is that the claims outstanding are invariably larger farms that are significant producers.” He concluded, “It is my information that the Department is only processing inspections carried out in August meaning that there are still four months’ worth of inspections to examine and that means farmers will have a very long wait for their money. This is certainly a grim situation for those farmers still without a payment and year after year the Department excuses continue but the situation gets worse. We need to see the Minister and the Department get to grips with the delay immediately.”
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