IFA Hill Committee Chairman Flor McCarthy has said the Department of Agriculture has confirmed to IFA that it is writing to farmers who have appealed the penalty imposed on hill land that was burned in 2017.
IFA is insisting that no farmer is penalised unless the Department can categorically prove that the farmer in question is responsible for the burning.
Flor McCarthy said it would be unacceptable that penalties would be imposed without clear evidence.
IFA has supported farmers in their appeals, which have provided evidence that the farmers in question did not start the fires. This was done through affidavits and appeal letters.
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.
If farmers still have a problem with their 2017 payment, IFA is encouraging them to bring their case to the Agricultural Appeals Office and IFA will support them in arguing 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.