IFA Calls for Greater Urgency and Focus from Minister Coveney on New Charter of Rights
Speaking at the second meeting on the negotiations for a new Charter of Farmers Rights in Portlaoise today, IFA Deputy President Tim O Leary said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney needs to bring greater urgency and focus to the negotiations in order to make real and substantial progress.arter of Rights with real deliverables for farmers is negotiated. “It address the key issues of simplification and a reduction in red tape, realistic notice, a reduction in the number of inspections and no duplication, a yellow card system and proper tolerances for minor infringements, improved service and delivery of all payments on time and within deadlines.”
On today’s negotiations covering applications, payments and appeals, the IFA Deputy President said delivery of payments on time and within the specified deadlines set down in the Charter is an absolute priority for the IFA and there can be no deviation from this principle. He said Minister Coveney needs to adopt a zero tolerance policy within his Department on non-delivery of direct payments across all schemes, given the importance of direct payments to farm income.
Tim O Leary said over 80,000 farmers had submitted their area aid/Single Farm Payment application form on line in the middle of May, with most applicants retaining the services of an adviser/consultant at significant costs. He said this is of major benefit to the Department in terms of processing.
Mr O’Leary said the current system for dealing with queries is not effective and far too many payments are held up because of a delays in dealing with queries or because a farmer is selected for inspection. “Farmers are not notified of queries in adequate time and end up getting queries a few days before payment is due. This is not acceptable. IFA is demanding an improved service from the Department in resolving queries faster and before the payment deadlines. Queries or inspections cannot be allowed to hold up payments.”
Tim O Leary said the appeals process is not working well enough for farmers. The initial review process within the Department is ineffective, as Department personnel are not prepared to change decisions of their colleagues in almost all circumstances. He said the agricultural appeals office needs to be put on a more independent footing with an independent chairperson. In addition, it is taking too long for appeal cases to be dealt with and a more focused delivery deadline for completing all cases within a maximum of three months should be implemented. He said whatever is not dealt with within the timeframe, penalties should not apply.