15 Mar 2016
Charter of Farmers RightsPayments and Inspections
The IFA has negotiated a Charter of Farmers Rights to set down important deadlines and protocols
Some of the key provisions of the Charter of Farmers Rights are set out below.
Tolerances on Penalties
Where there are minor infringements detected during inspections, there is a period of up to 3 months to rectify the non-compliance, without incurring a penalty. If the farmer sorts out this problem within the timeframe there is no further action and no penalty.
In the Charter there are new tolerances on tagging for bovines, where an animal is missing both tags but can be identified and the farmer has ordered replacements ear tags prior to inspection.
Tolerances and no penalty where up to 30% of animals have one tag only and the farmer has a history of ordering replacement tags. Other tolerances for minor discrepancies on herd register, passports and clerical errors – Read full details
Resolving Problems and Queries
The Department is obliged to notify farmers on queries as soon as possible after identification and at the latest before Sept 1st for ANCs and Sept 15th for BPS. For stocking levels on ANCs the criteria may not be met by mid Sept and queries will arise later.
Where the query is responded to within 14 days, and the response is adequate, the application will be finalised for payment by the deadline date.
Target is to have all problems dealt with by Sept 15th for ANCs and Oct 15th for all other applications.
The Charter of Farmers Rights establishes that if a farmer is dissatisfied with an inspection finding he can seek a review of the decision to the relevant inspector.
Notice of findings letters will provide details on the appeal options available and the contact details. Where the farmer makes a complaint, the Department will respond within 15 working days, with an acknowledgement issued within 3 days
The first procedure to deal with a problem is an internal Department review. If this is unsuccessful, the next course of action is for the farmer to take the case to the Independent Agriculture Appeals Office.
Cases will be dealt with within a 3 month deadline. However this can be extended on a case-by-case basis. If you are dissatisfied with the appeals procedure you can seek the assistance of the Ombudsman.
Customer Charter and General Commitments
- Improved response from DAFM to phone calls – aim to answer calls in 20 seconds
- Department to respond to correspondence within a maximum of 20 days
- Interim response within 10 days if above is not possible
- Improved communication from Department through text, email and internet
- Training of Inspection staff on the need to treat farmers with the utmost respect and fairness
- Department will make payments within agreed deadlines
- Consultation with IFA on Terms and Conditions of all schemes
- Increase use of online applications
- User friendly format for all schemes
- Farmers have a right to appeal all decisions
- Department to attend IFA information meetings
- The new Investigations Division (formerly SIU) will also be subjec to the new Charter rules, for the first time
- Copy of new Charter to be sent to all farmers