Mayo Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith TD, to immediately sanction the payment of outstanding grants owed to farmers who participated in the Farm Waste Management Scheme. It was revealed at the weekend that the Government underestimated what it has to pay to farmers by €400m and the Minister is now hoping to persuade farmers to accept some form of deferred payments.
However, Deputy O’Mahony said the money due should be paid out immediately and he said he intended to raise the matter in the Dáil. “Last year, when it became clear that significant numbers of farmers wanted to participate in the scheme, the Government refused to extend the December 31 deadline to allow more farmers take part.
“Now, if what was reported at the weekend is true, the Government is backtracking and they want the farmers to accept deferred payments. That might make a good sound byte but it won’t do anything to appease the financial institutions that the farmers borrowed the money from to carry out the work.
“I have anecdotal evidence that farmers are under pressure from the banks to make their repayments but because the Government is holding back on paying the grants the farmers are unable to pay back the loans they received.
“The Dáil is back in business and I intend to raise it as a matter of urgency with the Minister,” he said.