Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Farmer finally paid by Department of Agriculture 9 years after submitting application

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Department of Agriculture has agreed to make a payment to a farmer under the Farm Improvement Scheme some 9 years after the application was submitted.

The farmer complained to the Office of the Ombudsman about the decision of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to refuse his and his wife’s Farm Improvement Scheme (FIS) applications on the grounds that they were received after the closing date, i.e. 21 October 2007.

The Farm Improvement Scheme was launched by the Department in July 2007.

A total €79m was provided for the Farm Improvement Scheme. The Scheme would be terminated when this financial ceiling had been reached.

Some 12,675 applications were received under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension in October 2007.

The Ombudsman noted that the couple were never informed of the decision to refuse the applications, or of their right of appeal, until they wrote to the Minister’s office in 2011. 

They appealed the decision and the farmer provided evidence to show that the applications had been hand delivered to the Department’s offices in Carrick-on-Shannon on 18 October 2007. 

This included a statement from the Teagasc official who delivered the applications, details of their travel claim in respect of their trip to Carrick-on-Shannon on 18 October 2007 and a copy of the Teagasc Daybook (which contained details of the applications delivered that day). 

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The Appeals Office concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, the applications were received after the closing date because they were date stamped as received on 22 October 2007. 

The Ombudsman asked the Department to reconsider its decision as he felt that there was compelling evidence provided by a State agency to support the farmer’s claim that the applications had been received before the scheme was closed. 

It agreed to review the matter.

The Department agreed to make an ex gratia payment to the man and his wife in respect of the applications.

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