Leitrim IFA Chairperson, Pat Gilhooley, said the Minister for Agriculture must go back to Brussels and insist that retrospective penalties are not unfairly imposed on thousands of farmers over EU land eligibility issues.
Mr Gilhooley said Minister Simon Coveney has to make it clear in Brussels that it is unacceptable that land deemed eligible previously, and paid on by the Department, is now considered ineligible. He said the Minister must negotiate an amnesty with the EU Commission to remove retrospective penalties.
“Farmers having to make adjustments to the 2013 application is one thing, but retrospective penalties are not acceptable. In addition, all land available to the farmer must be allowed to reduce any eligibility problem,” the IFA Chairperson told the Leitrim Observer.
“With the payment of the second instalment of the Single Farm Payment due this week Minister Coveney must insist that all farmers are paid on time, and in full.”
Mr Gilhooley said the Minister must get the eligible land appeals system working immediately and there should be no deductions until a farmer has been given the opportunity to appeal.
He added that planners, including Teagasc and private consultants, must stand by their farmer clients to resolve any problem on land eligibility.
“Farmers should insist that the planner service, which they have paid for, takes responsibility for helping address any land eligibility issues. In addition, the Department must proactively assist farmers to fairly and quickly resolve genuine problems on land eligibility so farmers are not penalised,” said Mr Gilhooley.