With volatile prices often connected to events on a global scale, farmers find it difficult to get an idea of farmgate prices a year or two ahead.

However they do expect their Single Farm Payment on time, in early December, unless they have been informed of breaches.

The European Union subsidy is vitally important to their businesses, in fact, now worth 87 per cent of farm incomes.

This is crucial to the welbeing of the industry, especially as the latest farm income figures showed a 16 per cent drop in 2014.

However 150 farmers in the south-east Fermanagh area who were subjected to DARD inspections during 2014, mostly using the latest technology called Control by Remote Sensing from satellite imagery have had their payments delayed. As a result, over 80 of them have still not received their payments and may not do so until near the end of March, more than three months later than normal.

DARD introduced the technology which was supposed to speed up claims but it appears to throw up anomalies that a second inspection on the ground is required in some cases. This involves more checks and the resultant delays.

However it is not only the farmers in the area who are suffering. Because they cannot pay their bills for animal feed, health products and other general merchandise, many other businesses are suffering form cashflow problems as well. This has an effect throughout the rural economy.

It is estimated that in excess of £ 1million is owed to the farmers and one merchant in the area is awaiting payment of £100,000 to clear debts.

DARD says they are bound by European Union rules to carry out inspections and four locations in Northern Ireland were chosen, one of which was south-east Fermanagh.

Inspections part and parcel of European subsidies and DARD have indicated a challenging 2015 as they work through the new CAP schemes but they also put the onus back on farmers to apply for payments onlien and to claim carefully.