Urgent negotiations needed on new Farmer’s Charter of Rights – ICMSA

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to immediately commence negotiations in relation to a new Farmers’ Charter of Rights.

Deputy president of the ICMSA Lorcan McCabe said that his association will be seeking improvements to the delivery and implementation of the farm schemes covered by such a charter.

The Charter of Rights aims to enhance the delivery of services and schemes to clients of the department and the current charter expires at the end of this year.

The Farmers’ Charter of Rights 2015-2020 was agreed following discussions with the farming organisations.

The charter sets out specific delivery targets to farmer customers and covers the following schemes:
  • Basic Payment Scheme (BPS);
  • Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC);
  • Beef Genomics and Data Programme (BDGP);
  • Knowledge Transfer Scheme;
  • Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS);
  • Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS);
  • Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS);
  • Organic Farming Scheme (OFS);
  • Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II;
  • Forestry Grant and Premium Schemes;
  • Horticulture;
  • Animal Health Schemes.

McCabe said that the importance of farm schemes to farm families and, through them the wider rural economy, has been well documented and cannot be overstated.

He said ICMSA was happy to acknowledge the progress made in relation to the delivery of, particularly, BPS payments over the last number of years.

However, the association still has many areas of concern around the delivery of schemes and, most specifically, in relation to forestry schemes.

“Clearly, the issue of inspections remains a major bone of contention for farmers and we need to see real simplification in relation to farm inspections in the next farmers’ charter,” said the deputy president.

ICMSA will be pushing for farmers to be treated more fairly, both in relation to the notice period of inspections and an improved tolerance system where minor breaches of regulations do not lead to a financial penalty.

In relation to the fact that the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) post-2020 negotiations have yet to be concluded, McCabe said that the new charter will have to address the transition period that is likely to be in place for at least one year and then cater for the new structure and schemes in CAP.

Urgent need for charter

ICMSA says that for an initial period, the charter will have to be a work-in-progress but he was categorical that farmers want and need a charter to be in place in 2021.

This is necessary to ensure farmers’ rights are protected and that progress has been made on greater simplification of the management and inspection of schemes.

“We’ll be raising the matter of the new charter at the Farmers’ Charter Monitoring Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday (October 8) and asking the department for outline plans around timelines and consultation,” concluded McCabe.