IFA Hill Committee Chairman Flor McCarthy has said farmers who have had penalties imposed on land burnt in 2017 should appeal to the Agricultural Appeals Office.
He said IFA is insisting that no farmer should be penalised unless the Department of Agriculture can categorically prove that the farmer in question is responsible for the burning.
The Department of Agriculture has issued letters to farmers affected confirming that the administrative penalty has been waived. Nonetheless, Flor McCarthy said, farmers should appeal the remaining penalty.
The IFA Hill Chairman said, “It would be unacceptable that penalties would be imposed without clear evidence. IFA will support farmers in arguing their case to the Appeals Office that unless the Department can prove culpability, payment must be made on the land. This issue has caused extreme hardship on the farmers involved and a speedy resolution with payment is required.”
At meetings with the Department of Agriculture since this issue arose at the end of 2017, IFA has been told that the lands in question are eligible for 2018 Basic Payment and the only issue at stake is the 2017 payment.
Flor McCarthy pointed out that in the paper applications that these farmers have received for this year’s BPS application, the burnt land has been removed. However, he said the lands are eligible and will be included on the online system. Flor McCarthy encouraged farmers to ensure all of their eligible land is included when they make their online applications.