Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman, and member of the Stormont Agriculture Committee, has said he is pleased with the news that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has “urgently addressed the issue of speeding up the process of single farm payments”.
Assemblyman Swann is also North Antrim UUP Chairman, Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, and Past Chairman of the influential Rural Youth Europe organisation.
Mr Swann said: “I fully welcome the announcement by Sinn Fein Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill that she intents to follow my advice and speed up Single Farm Payments.
“I have consistently lobbied the Agriculture Minister about local farmers who have faced lengthy delays in receiving their Single Farm Payments.
“Many farmers across North Antrim depend of the Single Farm Payment to keep their heads above water and at times the bureaucracy surrounding the payments means that many farmers are waiting months for their grants.
“This welcome move by the Minister follows on my earlier challenges to her in the Stormont Chamber about speeding up this very necessary process.”
Mr Swann said to Minister Michelle O’Neill: “You mentioned actions such as additional resources and software changes to accelerate payments. Your Department also advised that a refinement of processes was applied to accelerate payments. What refinement of processes did your Department carry out?
“In her response to me, the Minister said she and her Department are looking at the particular delays in each part of the process, from when an application is received right through to inspection and what comes back into the Department,” said Assemblyman Swann.