Pressure builds on Coveney to sort out eligibility debacle
Department set to clarify eligibility criteria for Basic Payment Scheme
The Department of Agriculture is struggling to deal with the escalating crisis surrounding land eligibility rules.
Amid ongoing negotiations with EU Commission officials yesterday, Department sources confirmed that a new booklet outlining revised definitions of eligible ground would be published over the coming week.
While officials remained tight-lipped on the contents, it is believed that marginal land - the most contentious regarding eligibility - may only need to show that it is 'available' for grazing in order to qualify.
Up to now farms were assessed on the basis of farming activity, which has led to division and even legal challenges between farmers, their representatives and the Department.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmer Association (INHFA) has called for stakeholder working group to be established to address farmer concerns regarding the land eligibility controversy.
The INHFA have taken issue with the Department's approach to-date on land eligibility.
"Suggestions that farmers can use the five-year period of the Commonage Management Plan to make land eligible again is an unacceptable suggestion," said INHFA spokesman Colm O'Donnell.
"In the vast majority of cases this land is eligible. The problem is the narrow, rigid and inconsistent interpretation of rules based on lowland models."