Tipperary TD, Jackie Cahill has said that a full review of inspection procedures under the Single Farm Payment has been agreed to by the Department of Agriculture following yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and Food.
“For the last six years or more, farmers in North Tipperary were rightly annoyed about the highly punitive penalties that were being applied. These penalties were more than double than those being applied by the South Tipperary office.
“Last week, I facilitated members of North Tipperary IFA to appear before the Committee where they discussed in detail the challenges they have faced to get to the bottom of the problem as to why they were being penalised so heavily compared to other farmers.
“At yesterday’s meeting, the Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture accepted and conceded that changes were made to terms and conditions of the Single Farm Payment without discussions or negotiations with farmers or farm organisation. This was against the principles agreed in the Farmer’s Charter.
“The Secretary General committed to us that a full review would take place, and that the previous changes would be up for discussion.
“He is also committed to restoring confidence among all farmers in the scheme and in the Department’s work.
“What also must happen is the Department following natural justice and waiving the excessive penalties that have been applied to farmers as a result of the changes in the inspection regime.
“The Statutory Instrument under which this scheme is based refers to the principle of natural justice. If natural justice is applied in this case, the penalties will be waived.
“Farmers were clearly out of the loop with regards to changes to the terms and conditions inspection regime. How then can we expect them to pay penalties when they weren’t aware of these changes?” concluded Cahill.