Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins yesterday along with a number of small farmers presented a petition to the European Parliament in relation to the Single Farm Payment.
Earlier this week Mr Higgins said: “The Single Farm Payment needs to be distributed to farmers in a fair manner, upon clear guidelines. For the vast majority of farmers farming simply is not viable without their single farm payment. Indeed most payments are spent long before they are even received, hence Ireland's annual application for early release of payments. In order to allow farmers to budget and benefit from their payment, the money needs to be distributed in a consistent manner. In the current case the Keelderry commonage farmers' payment was slashed from one year to the next without any reason, wrongdoing, or change in the terms and conditions of the Commonage Scheme."
Mr Higgins, who was a key figure in the drafting of the terms of reference of the Single Farm Payment scheme at EU level, said he was incensed that :EU AGRI funds could be withheld upon the whim of officials in the Department of Agriculture”. He went on to say: “You can only imagine the shock in the Parliament when I outlined how the Single Farm Payment could be applied in such an ad hoc and unfair manner.”