With ongoing delays on the processing and issuing of payments to farmers under the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC) the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) are asking where the Charter of Rights for farmers now stands. Presently many farmers and especially those with commonage land have being left in limbo with no payments issued and no correspondence from the Department Of Agriculture to clarify why payments were not issued.
INHFA Policy Spokesperson Colm O Donnell stated that “there are major problems with issuing of payments for the ANC Scheme (previously known as Disadvantage Area Scheme) and these problems are being compounded by a lack of communication between the department and the farmers who were expecting these payments to be issued in the last week”
With telephone lines into the Departments ANC Section in Portlaoise being over-ran the INHFA have being inundated with calls from farmers desperate for information. Mr O Donnell added that “the situation is totally unacceptable
and if the department and the minister are serious about farmer’s rights then all farmers’ still awaiting payments should be written to clearly outlining the issues regarding their payments and how they can be rectified”
From contact we have had with the Department it seems some of the problems relates to changes made to how stocking rates are calculated while on commonages, issues relating to ineligible areas features strongly.
However it is now four months since the department received the applications from farmers so why are problems only being identified now. Farmers affected need to know if there is a staffing problem inside the department or is the problem with the technology and why can they not get any information.
Mr O Donnell concluded by saying “whatever the problem is, its farmers that are going without money and answers, while others debate on their rights”