Not happy with your Department inspection? Here’s how to make a complaint

The Department of Agriculture recently published the updated Farmers Charter and it details how to make a complaint if you’re not happy after a farm inspection.

The move comes in the wake of the Department and the main farming organisations recently concluding months of negotiations on a the new Charter.

The Charter is effectively an agreement between both parties on improving the standards and delivery targets for the Department’s schemes and services, including on-farm inspections, and brings clarity to the arrangements around inspections.

The document is designed to set out in very clear language, the timelines, application, payment and appeals processes and is a very useful reference for farmer.

How to make a complaint

One element of the new Charter is the procedure farmers can take to make a complaint following a farm inspection.

If a farmer is unhappy about any aspect of our services and general service commitments, farmers can contact the manager of the division concerned who will look into the matter for you.

You can also write directly to the Quality Service Unit.

The Department says it will acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days and aim to deal with your complaint within 15 working days. If we need to carry out further research we will let you know and try to have completed this within 30 working days. Full details can be found in our Customer Complaints Procedure.

Complaints may also be made under Investigations Division’s Code of Practice (a copy of which is available on the Department’s website). Such complaints can also be sent directly to the Quality Service Unit.

Complaints may also be raised at the Monitoring Committee in relation to the above issues.

The Investigations Division will be subject to the same complaints, review and appeals procedures as all other divisions of the Department. The Investigations Division will also be subject to the Charter Monitoring Committee.

Review/ Appeals Procedures

Internal Review

Requests for review or appeal can arise for many reasons. Appeals may arise from administrative checks or from the inspection process, be it remote or on the ground. The process provides in the first instance for an internal review within the Department followed by an external review if necessary.

Administrative Procedures Review

Where farmers are unhappy with the outcome of their scheme application or administrative requirements they may, in the first instance, seek in writing, a review of the decision. Reviews can be sought in the first instance from the manager of the particular payment section {scheme] involved. In the case of payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), initial review requests should be addressed to: Decision maker name (usually HEO/Manager), The Direct Payments Unit.

Ground Inspection Cases (Eligibility/Greening/Cross Compliance) Review

For the BPS, if the farmer is dissatisfied with the inspection findings he/she can seek a review of the decision to the relevant District Inspector, as detailed in the inspection findings notification letter (FN letter).

Remote Sensing Inspections Review

If the farmer wishes to seek a review of the results of a remote sensing inspection he/she can submit a review request to Remote Sensing Inspections Sections. 

Other Inspections Review

Where the applicant is not happy with any other inspection findings he/she can seek a first stage internal review within the inspection service. Notice of findings letters will provide details on the appeal options available and the contact details.

Appeal

If the internal review does not resolve the position to the satisfaction of the farmer, appeals can be made to the Agriculture Appeals Office (AAO), which is an independent statutory agency, which provides an independent, impartial and free appeals service to farmers who are dissatisfied with decisions of DAFM regarding their entitlements under certain schemes.

Appeals must be submitted to the AAO within three months of the date of letter of notification to the farmers of the final decision of the Department. In certain cases, where the director considers it appropriate, this 3 month deadline can be extended on a case-by-case basis.

The Agriculture Appeals Act 2001, along with the Agriculture Appeals Regulations 2002 (as amended), set down the functions of the office, the decisions that may be appealed and the procedures to be followed in respect of agriculture appeals. From the date of receipt of all relevant documentation, the Appeals Office will aim to conclude its findings within a 3 month period. 

For more informations and contact details visit the Department of Agriculture website www.agriculture.gov.ie.

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