BDGP generates ‘lion’s share’ of agri scheme appeals in 2017

The highest number of agricultural scheme appeal cases taken in 2017 were in relation to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the latest official report has stated.

According to the recently-published Agriculture Appeals Office Annual Report for 2017, a total of 638 appeals were received last year – this equates to an increase of almost 7% on 2016 figures.

The highest number of appeals received in 2017 concerned the following schemes:
  • BDGP (17%);
  • Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (12%);
  • Basic Payment Scheme / National Reserve applications (12%);
  • Basic Payment Scheme / Areas of Natural Constraints cross compliance (8%).

The total number of appeals closed in 2017 was 707 – this figure was also 5% higher than the number of appeals closed in the previous year.

The outcome of all appeals closed in 2017 was as follows:

  • 37% of appeals were allowed, partially allowed, or revised by the department following input from the Agriculture Appeals Office;
  • 52% of appeals were disallowed;
  • 11% of appeals were withdrawn, invalid or received after the three-month deadline.

Of the 52% of appeals that were disallowed, 22% comprised of decisions concerning allocation of entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Specific issues

With regard to appeals received for the BDGP scheme, the report outlined that the issues which arose related mostly to non-compliance with Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) requirements and the registration of animals.

The report also states that a variety of issues were evident in appeals received for the GLAS scheme, including:
  • Land not in forage for the previous eight years;
  • Slurry not spread as required;
  • Non-registration of rare breeds with a breed society;
  • Watercourse protection and other actions not completed;
  • Heather present on low-input permanent pasture land;
  • Issues with hedges for coppicing (trees or shrubs cut back to ground level to stimulate growth).

With regard to the BPS and the National Reserve, the applications included decisions made in years 2015, 2016 and 2017 due to the fact that the office could not accept appeals prior to January 2017 – as legislation had been changed.

Annual report

In the report, Angela Robinson – director of Agricultural Appeals – states that the “primary function” of the report is to fulfill the requirements of Section 14 of the Agriculture Appeals Act 2001, as amended, by reporting the activities of the office to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

She also outlines that the report also endeavours to provide “useful information” to scheme applicants, the department and other interested parties.

“The mission of the office is to provide an independent, accessible, fair and timely appeals service for scheme applicants under designated Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine schemes, and to deliver that service in an efficient and courteous manner.”

The annual report provides a statistical breakdown of the appeals dealt with by the office in 2017, an overview of appeal-related activities undertaken by the office during 2017 and a description of some cases determined by appeals officers in 2017.

It also outlines suggestions for the consideration of the department that might assist in improving processes, in addition to suggestions for consideration by scheme participants that might assist in improving the understanding of issues arising from the various schemes.