PUBLISHING details of Single Farm Payments could put farm families at risk of being targetted by criminals, according to Kerry ICMSA Chairman Pat Rohan.
Mr Rohan from Annascaul highlighted concerns among farmers about the fairness and security of publishing payment details and he expressed surprise and disappointment that some commentators appear to be very blasé about their fears.
"There simply has to be some acknowledgement of the security considerations of the farmers concerned," Mr Rohan said. "ICMSA has no issue with someone going into a Department of Agriculture Office or a Teagasc office and outlining their reasons for knowing what farmer 'X' received in his or her SFP. But we have a major problem with a publicly accessible website that lists the name, address and amount paid to individual farmers in an environment where, more and more, we see rural residents being targeted deliberately by criminal elements - and all against a background of a programme to close rural Garda stations.
"We do not think it's unreasonable to ask why certain people would want to know what some farmer living alone in a remote part of the country was receiving", he added." That is ICMSA's point: we're not being paranoid about the right of EU taxpayers to know what we received in our SFP."
Mr Rohan said that, for the most part, Single Farm Payments are very modest and no more than a recognition of the money owed to farmers for producing affordable, high quality food for the EU's population, which is the thinking behind the Single Farm Payments in the first place.
"Farmers are not against transparency and openness, quite the contrary - there's no group in Ireland that has a greater interest in openness and transparency in, for instance, the whole area of the margins taken by the various components in our retail chain," Mr Rohan said. "We don't object to the listing of the payments; we merely want some degree of supervision of who is accessing that list and why they are accessing that list."