84 complaints related to agriculture were received by Ombudsman Peter Tyndall in 2019.
The total number of complaints rose by 9% to 3,664, which is the highest number received since 2010.
Of the 84 complaints about the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, 10 were upheld.
One of these complaints included a farmer in Co. Sligo whose payments under the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) were stopped.
This farmer had allocated a piece of his land for a 20-year period to encourage wildlife habitat and had invested in the planting of trees along a river as part of the scheme. He was of the belief that he would receive payments for 20 years.
The farmer was unable to take part in the final REPS scheme and decided to take part in a different scheme, which led the Department to stop his payments.
The Ombudsman upheld his complaint as the farmer was in full compliance with all the conditions of the scheme and they believed it was reasonable for the man to believe his payments would continue for the 20-year period.
The Department revised its decision and awarded the farmer €12,500. They have also identified 109 similar cases involving a possible liability of €855,000.
In a separate case, a 40-year-old farmer was denied an application to the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme (YFCIS). The Department agreed to review the case and the Ombudsman clarified the terms of the scheme with the European Commission.
The Commission clarified that the interpretation of ‘young farmer’ for this scheme included someone who applied before their 41st birthday.
More information can be found in the Ombudsman’s Annual Report for 2019.
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