Independent TD for Galway East, Sean Canney, has said that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine needs to adopt a “fair” approach to errors by farmers in assessing eligibility for farm supports.
He said he has been contacted by several farmers who have been “refused BPS payments because they failed to tick a box on their online application form”.
In a statement on Thursday, September 15th, 2022, the deputy said: “The crux of the problem is that the first question on the form asks if there are any changes since the previous year.”
“The second question asks if you are applying for ANC. Some farmers did not tick the ANC question as they understood that they had covered this in question one.”
“This is a simple error in interpretation. A simple query back from the DAFM would clarify this issue. However, the Department of Agriculture approach is to refuse payment of all supports.”
He said the DAFM’s decision can “only be described as “ruthless”. He stated that it leaves farmers short on “vital” income supports.
“I have examples of farmers who have lost thousands of euros in support over a four or five-year period directly as a result of a very harsh approach by the DAFM.”
“Some farmers, when they get the refusal, blame themselves for the error and do not appeal to the DAFM.”
He described the DAFM’s attitude as “unfair” and called on Minister McConalogue to intervene and “direct the DAFM to a more flexible approach when simple administrative errors are made”.
He stated that the minister also needs to conduct a review of such cases since 2018, when the online system became mandatory.
“Farming is tough, income is limited, and the Basic Payment Scheme is in place to support farmers, not to penalise simple errors. “
“The consequences for farmers are enormous. I am appealing to farmers who are penalised in this manner to contact my office so that I can strengthen my case to the minister,” he concluded.
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