Farm bodies call for Natura refunds
Farm bodies are calling for refunds for farmers unfairly penalised under land eligibility reviews in environmentally designated areas.
The Agriculture Department has made special provisions for farmers in Natura 2000 sites, including Hen Harrier lands, as part of the conditions of the Basic Payment Scheme. It states that Natura land is eligible for payment under the BPS scheme as long as it was permitted in 2008 and has since only been ruled out as a result of management needed to meet the objectives of the designated areas.
The ICMSA's Patrick Rohan said there is huge uncertainty and risks for farmers with such land.
Mr Rohan said there were many penalised unfairly in 2014 and previous years for land eligibility issues that are now deemed acceptable. "The department must review all such cases where farmers with eligible land were penalised for designation-related eligibility issues with the penalties refunded immediately where the original eligibility issue is now clarified," he said.
The IFA's Tom Turley said the clarification was important as some farmers were having land ruled out for payments. He said refunds would be sought where farmers were unfairly penalised.