Hill farmers to protest over charter breaches
Hill farmers are set to picket outside the Department of Agriculture offices in Portlaoise tomorrow over delays in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) claims that farmers are facing months of delays on essential payments.
"Any change to the reference area for an individual farmer are freezing not just ANC payments but entire Basic payments. We estimate that thousands of farmers are affected by these problems," said INHFA member Colm O'Donnell.
He cited examples of commonages where payments to the majority of farmers are being held up by one or two farmers trying to reactivate shares or clarify ownership.
"On a Galway commonage there are two farmers that are reactivating shares and were told everything is ok with their applications. But Department clarifications on these two are now holding up payments for 44 other farmers.
"This means that the Department are now in breach of the Farmers Charter of Rights which states that if there is a mapping issue then farmers have to be notified about this by September 1," said Mr O'Donnell.
"Not only this, but farmers find that they cannot get information on why their payments are held as the helplines into the Department are snowed under, notwithstanding the slight improvement in recent days.
Mr O'Donnell agrued that the ANC payments should be made in full, with minor over-claims being clawed back from later payments.