Minister's directive on burnt ground sparks farmer fury
Farm organisations and the Department of Agriculture are on a collision course over the eligibility of illegally burnt ground for direct payments.
The clash was sparked by a direction from the Department that landowners with illegally burnt land must remove this ground from their 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application.
Farm bodies have reacted furiously to the order, pointing out that blameless landowners could face delays in receiving direct payments as a result of the Department's move.
The INHFA's Colm O'Donnell said the Department could only withhold CAP payments from applicants if it was proven that the person in question "lit the fire".
Mr O'Donnell pointed out that at a recent Oireachtas Committee hearing on the question of wildfires, a senior Department official, Dr Kevin Smyth, stated that: "No farmer who is a victim of burning, with somebody else having set the fire, will be penalised."
The INHFA stance was supported by the IFA and ICSA.
ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has questioned the legality of the Department's approach.