Confusion over land eligibility ahead of the closing date for the first year of the Basic Payment Scheme is a problem which “must be addressed immediately”.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway East TD Paul Connaughton who said that many farmers still do not know what land is eligible for inclusion in the new scheme, the deadline for applications to which closes in five weeks.
The TD said the issue is a particular problem in south Galway on the commonages in the Sliabh Aughty area, where farmers are fearful that if they include parcels of land, which they believe are used as forage, they will subsequently be found to be ineligible and large penalties will be incurred.
“Farmers cannot be punished for applying for payments for such land because the Department is unable to provide clear and unambiguous information in relation to this issue,” he said. “At the moment, there are often differing opinions between inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, EU auditors, farm advisors, and farmers themselves, and farmers are placed in an impossible position.”
Dep Connaughton, who will be meeting with the Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, this week on the issue, is also calling for “a robust appeals process” which takes into account the current “lack of clarity”, needs to be established.