With many Waterford farmers on their knees, Fine Gael TD John Deasy has highlighted the major backlog in REPS 4 payments.

Commenting on the revelation that of the 633 participants in the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme in County Waterford, 521 are still awaiting payment for last year, he said the hold-up is “exacerbating an already critical cash flow situation” for farmers and their families.

“Well over half the participants in the REPS 4 scheme are desperately awaiting their 2009 payment three weeks into 2010. The past 12 months have been turbulent for farmers with the average farm income collapsing by 30 percent. This situation has not been helped by the failure of the Government who has continuously cut farm schemes in successive budgets. The Minister’s failure to ensure payment of REPS 4 on time merely adds fuel to the fire of financial difficulty,” he added.

Deputy Deasy, whose father Austin was agriculture minister from 1982-87, called on the current incumbent Brendan Smith “to immediately take personal responsibility to ensure the outstanding payments are issued as swiftly as possible.

“Many farmers are struggling to get information from the Department on why their payment has been delayed. The very least farmers in REPS 4 should be told is when they can expect payment to issue,” he asserted.