'Complete chaos' looms on Basic Payment Scheme
The lack of clarity on what qualifies as eligible land for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is threatening "complete chaos" for the 130,000 farmer applicants.
With less than seven weeks to the close of applications for the €1.2bn in payments it is understood that the issue of eligible land is still under discussion between the Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission.
The available regulations defining eligible land under the 2015 BPS were described by farmer leaders as "absolutely crazy" the farm organisations claimed. They said a number of "contradictions and conflicts" had created "utter confusion" for farmers.
The IFA is raising this issue with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture today. In a statement the association said it was "unacceptable" that farmers were currently applying for BPS and GLAS "in the dark" because of the continuing uncertainty over what was considered eligible land.
The IFA called for Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to bring clear up the uncertainty surrounding the eligible land issue, given that 2015 was a critical year for farmers' payments under the BPS as it effectively set entitlements up to 2020.
ICMSA president, John Comer has called on the Department to immediately give clear and realistic guidelines to farmers on eligible land.
"We cannot have the 2013 situation repeated when farmers received penalties going back a number of years on the basis, we would contend, of very questionable changes in the interpretation of regulations," Mr Comer said.
"The same problems are flaring up again. The level of detail now required in applications is bordering on the ridiculous," he said.