IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy said the average penalty for cross compliance in 2015 was just over €1,000, which represents a cut of 10% to the average Basic Payment.
At a recent meeting of the Charter of Rights, Richard Kennedy said inspections cannot hold up payments and if there are issues with farmers’ files, they should be sorted out after the payment.
Nearly half (43%) of farmers with a cross compliance issue in 2015 incurred a penalty. In total, farmers were penalised €4.42m last year. Almost 9,500 farmers were inspected last year.
Department of Agriculture figures also show that 1,600 farmers were penalised under the Nitrates regulations and were fined €1.85m.
On land eligibility, almost 8,000 inspections were carried out. Less than 6% (469) were fined a total of €462,000. However, this figure is not a true reflection of the amount of land that was deemed ineligible.
The overall level of penalties dropped last year compared to 2014. Farmers were fined €5.295m in 2014 and this fell to €4.884m last year. However, these deductions have a major impact on the farmers affected.
Richard Kennedy said the Department must publish a county-by-county breakdown to give farmers the full impact of inspections and penalties in each area.
IFA has recently met the Director of the Appeals Office to outline the importance of ensuring that farmers have recourse to an appeal against any decision made by the Department of Agriculture. Richard Kennedy reminded the Minister that there is a commitment in the Programme for Government to review the work of the Appeals Office.