Hill farmers say Charter of Rights is in tatters
Following a meeting with senior Department of Agriculture officials this week, Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association(INHFA) President,Colm O'Donnell stated "that the new farmers charter of rights has failed to uphold General principles agreed between the Department of Agriculture and farm organisations".
He says the meeting became necessary because the Minister for Agriculture's Department failed to inform claimants of the 2017 BPS and other area based schemes that during the validation process of their applications, they had over claimed their area of eligible land.
The INHFA leader said that during DAFM administrative checks all claimants should have been formally notified as soon as possible after identification of the over claim and at the latest by September 15,in line with the charter.Officially writing to claimants three months after this deadline is unacceptable and calls into question the farmers charter of rights monitoring committee",continued O Donnell.
The INHFA have said a substantial number of recent over claim letters received by applicants appears to be linked to the 95 wild fires which engulfed many areas during the late spring/early summer period of exceptionally dry weather earlier this year.
It says these fires were formally reported to the EU commission by the Irish Wildlife Trust and farmers now find themselves having to respond to the DAFM letters either accepting a reduced reference area or seeking a review of their case and all this through no fault on their behalf.
"That all farmers who received these letters, respond without delay and set out clearly why they were not part of the group of people that started those illegal fires.
"Affected farmers in Achill Co Mayo have already taken action lodging 90 sworn affidavits with the DAFM when they accompanied our INHFA delegation at Monday's meeting".
The accompanying delegation explained how they as farmers risked their lives in the putting out of those fires along with their good neighbours and friends.
This process has now to be addressed and we urge farmers to respond as quickly as possible if they have received those letters, O'Donnell stated.
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