Farmer wins appeal over ANC payment omission

A farmer who did not receive Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC) payments from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine due to not meeting the stocking requirement won their appeal against this decision.

The case in question was one of a selection of examples of agricultural appeals cases dealt with last year, according to the Agricultural Appeals Office, in its annual report for 2019.

In the case, highlighted by the appeals office, it was noted that an application was made for the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme in 2017.

The appellant was informed by the department that they would not receive payments under the ANC for 2017. The reason for this decision was that they did not maintain the required number of livestock on their farm for the stipulated period.

The appeal was on the grounds that the applicant had been very unwell having had a stroke. Medical documents were provided.

The appellant had to sell cattle due to ill health, though they did have enough levels of stock in the 2017 period by way of owning horses and donkeys, both of which produced off-spring. They subsequently sold the horses and donkeys in 2018 and did not have the logbooks which were given to the new owners.

The appeals office noted that the appellant asked that consideration be given to their ill health and previous stocking rates to allow the subsidies for the relevant 2017 year.

At the oral hearing, the department’s representative gave the background and details of the application. They outlined the stocking rate requirements, referred to the appellant’s illness going back to 2014 and the fact that they had enough stock in 2016.

The department outlined how it was unable to change the decision on the grounds of force majeure as the year the appellant had the stroke was not relevant to their 2017 application.

The appellant’s representative gave details of the health issues involved and of the appellant’s health deteriorating in 2017 and other information they considered relevant to the appellant’s circumstances and non compliance.

The appellant’s representative also referred to the penalty being disproportionate and grounds of force majeure due to the appellant’s serious illness. Further medical documentation was provided to the appeals officer after the oral hearing.

In their decision, the appeals officer had regard to the terms and conditions of the scheme, the relevant EU legislation and the circumstances particular to this case.

Considering the medical evidence supplied after the oral hearing which detailed the serious deterioration in appellant’s health and memory in 2017 and taking account of the particular circumstances of the case, the appeals officer overturned the department’s decision on the grounds that force majeure was applicable in this case.

The appeal was allowed, the Agricultural Appeals Office concluded.