West Cork farmers to bring minister to court

Up to 10 West Cork farmers who are opposed to cuts and penalties over land eligibility under the single farm payment system are to take a case to the High Court against the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

The group of farmers are challenging the introduction of retrospective land fines, which they have described as unfair and unjust. Speaking to AgriLand ICSA Ireland’s Dermot Kelleher said West Cork and Kerry are the worst affected areas of this land mapping review and hundreds of farmers are affected.

“We have held numerous public meetings, have met with representatives of the Department of Agriculture and have marched outside the offices of our three West Cork TDs to highlight the flaws in the new mapping system, which has led to devastating cuts on farmers’ incomes. What the department is doing is off the wall,” he said.

Kelleher confirmed a high-profile farming solicitor in Bantry is to take up the High Court challenge.

Meanwhile one of the farming couples is James and Corinne Maguire, who farm 22 hectares outside Skibbereen. Speaking to AgriLand, Maguire said they have decided to take the legal challenge against the imposed cuts and fines because they believe they are completely unfair.

“The new imaging system used for mapping our land shows that parts of our land, which has always been farmed for generations, are no longer deemed eligible under the SFP scheme,” he said.

“In my case, the change will mean a loss of income of approximately €1,800 per year, but the situation is actually much more serious than that because the cuts are also retrospective for the previous five years.”

A timescale for the court challenge is as of yet unknown, but it could take up to two years.