IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy told a Charter of Farmers’ Rights meeting in Portlaoise today that the Department of Agriculture must introduce proper and effective procedures to deal with farmers’ complaints in relation to problem inspections.
He said concerns raised recently surrounding inspections strongly point to the need for a confidential complaints procedure so farmers can raise concerns without fear of intimidation.
Richard Kennedy said it is vitally important that Minister Creed ensures that the integrity of the Farmers’ Charter and the inspection regime is not undermined in a relatively small number of cases where farmers are being unfairly treated.
The IFA Deputy President also told the meeting that Minister Creed and the Department must examine the inspection and penalty system and introduce a more effective and farmer friendly close out approach which gives them an opportunity to rectify non-compliances without incurring a penalty. He said this is a basic right afforded across society and direct payment schemes operated by the Department of Agriculture should be no different.
On payments, Richard Kennedy said it is important that there is no hold up in payments in 2018, “With payments for ANCs due on the third week of September, including the additional €25m secured by the IFA, and the BPS due in the first week of October, any delay in payments would cause significant hardship on farmers.”
IFA made a case that Minister Creed needs to insist that the first advance payment from the EU is at the higher level of 75% and 85% for the Rural Development Programme.
In relation to GLAS, the IFA said there can be no repeat of the payment delays that have mired the scheme over the last two years. He said the Department have been well warned on GLAS payment delays and these will not be tolerated in 2018/2019.