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Despite huge efforts being made by the Department of Agriculture to get the Super Levy Instalment Scheme in place in time for this month’s milk cheque, it is now unlikely to happen.  As readers are aware, the Scheme will involve the State incurring a portion of the cost of the €69m super-levy bill and farmers paying it off, free of interest, across three seasons.  Farmers who wish to avail of the Scheme will need to enter into a contract with the State, guaranteeing to repay the deferred super-levy, in a prescribed format, across this year and the next two years.

The work, which needed to be done, to make the Scheme happen at Department level included the drafting of those contracts and the associated Statutory Instrument to make it legal, as well as getting approval from the Department of Public Expenditure as well as the Attorney General. ICOS understands that the process will shortly be approved and contracts will then be immediately circulated to co-ops, who can make them available to producers.

Once farmers have signed those contracts, guaranteeing to repay the balance of their super-levy bills in the format set out in the contract, then co-ops can start to administer the Scheme, repaying sums collected, as appropriate and allowing farmers to benefit from the slower collection schedule.

Participant farmers will become debtors of the Department of Agriculture and will be expected to repay the monies in equal tranches across the main milk supply months. Co-ops will be expected to pass the money on to the Department as it is collected. Should a farmer leave his/her milk purchaser, change his/her ownership structure (for a company or a partnership etc.) or cease milk production, then the debt will crystallise immediately, unless the farmer enters into a new agreement with the Department, specifying an alternative repayment mechanism.