Analysis: A €3k penalty means these will be the last pet sheep I'll ever own
The reaction to last week's piece about my frustrations dealing with claim after claim by the Department of Agriculture in relation to my farm payments struck a chord.
In fairness, I shouldn't have been so surprised that so many farmers would get in contact to commiserate with me and share their own stories - this is an old chestnut in farming circles at this stage.
It was also interesting to note that after more than six months of zero feedback on my appeal - despite phonecalls and emails - I had the answer within 48 hours of publishing my ordeal in the Farming Independent.
That's where the good news ends - the €3,157 penalty was upheld, and now I have to suck it up or double down and appeal the decision to the Ombudsman.
One farmer who got in touch with me said that it was only when he took his appeal to the Ombudsman and indicated he would go all the way to the EU Court of Justice that an amount exactly equal to the sum he was appealing dropped silently into his bank account one night - no notice, no explanation.
It's tempting, especially when the penalty is so disproportionate - two poxy pet sheep and one of them without a tag.
I can tell you they'll be the last sheep that ever grace these fields in my time!
But I've also seen firsthand how farmers become consumed by their battles with the might of the State apparatus. You are basically the poker player who decides to go all-in since you end up investing all your time and energy into proving your point.