Calls for Data Commissioner probe into the IFA system for collecting levy
Farmers are calling for the Data Commissioner to investigate the IFA system of collecting levies.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent has called for an investigation into whether the IFA levy collection process is GDPR compliant. The levy is collected by meat processors, marts and co-ops on the association's behalf - last year it was worth €3.2m to IFA.
The system includes a process for identifying farmers who do not pay the levy.
The IFA says the levy allows all farmers to contribute fairly and proportionately based on the scale of their enterprise to support the association's work on their behalf.
However, the practice has been questioned by a leading data protection expert, who says the farmers who opt out of paying the levy should not be identified.
Dr TJ McIntyre, a solicitor and law lecturer at UCD, said there must be a legal basis to provide information to third parties and this must normally be done on an 'opt-in' basis.
According to Dr McIntyre, if the form does not allow farmers to opt out of the levy without their personal data being passed on to the IFA, then it is not valid consent for the purposes of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Mr Kent said many farmers have "extreme misgivings about the method of taking money off the without their prior consent.