IFA calls on farmers to appeal payment clawbacks
Irish Farmers Association (IFA) deputy president Eddie Downey has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to intervene in the eligible area debate and go back to Brussels to negotiate an acceptable outcome for the thousands of farmers who are having their direct payments cut by the Department of Agriculture and suffering a clawback of vital income support.
It is totally unacceptable that the Department of Agriculture are penalising farmers on land area adjustments based on new digitised maps and desktop analysis, Downey said. “Changes in the way the department are interpreting and applying the rules, and using more accurate maps and satellite photographic material against farmers to apply penalties retrospectively as far back as 2009, is wrong.”
Downey said: “When farmers applied in previous years they had used the best information available, most of which was supplied by the Department of Agriculture. It is very unfair that new information and technology is being used to impose penalties retrospectively on farmers.”
Downey said he had met with the European Commission in Brussels recently and pointed out the major investment and costs by farmers in online Single Farm Payment (SFP) applications and improved knowledge on the cross compliance areas over the years has led to much more accurate applications.
The IFA deputy president said in the new CAP implementation, it is vitally important that there is real simplification with reduced bureaucracy under the SFP. In addition, he said there must be adequate notice of up to 14 days for all inspections, proper and flexible tolerance levels to deal with unintentional errors, an effective yellow card system, lower penalties, no duplication and reduced inspections.
The IFA deputy president urged all farmers who have concerns to appeal the letters sent out by the department. He said farmers cannot be denied their payments as they make up such a significant part of farm income. He pointed out that an independent appeals mechanism has been put in place and this must deliver speedily and ensure fair play.
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