Minister needs to ensure ‘Farmers Charter of Rights’ is implemented – INHFA

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association has called on Minister Creed to ensure that actions specified in the Charter of Rights are adhered too. National President Colm O’Donnell outlined how farmers can expect to see payments under the ANC or Basic Payment Schemes in the coming weeks, provided the Department have not found an issue with their application.

O’Donnell pointed to the 1st and 15th of September as critical dates, whereby Department officials, are obliged to notify farmers of any problem with their application that is not a stocking related issue. Where an issue, on an ANC application has being discovered prior to the 1st September and farmers can provide a sufficient response within 14 days, then the Department are obliged to have it dealt with by September 15th. For Basic Payment applications, the date farmers should be notified by is the 15th September and provided they can provide a sufficient response, then the issue should be dealt with by October 15th.

However added O’Donnell “the unfortunate facts to date has seen our Department ignore this, leaving many farmers waiting for payments well into the winter and sometimes into the spring of the following year. This blatant disregard for farmer’s rights should not be allowed to continue which is why we are calling on Minister Creed to ensure that this autumn, farmers rights are upheld as agreed in their Charter of Rights.”

O’Donnell also expressed alarm at how other issues in the Charter of Rights continues to be flaunted on a daily basis such as; answering all calls within 20 seconds, voicemail messages being replied to within one day and the commitment to answer all queries and if unable to do so clarifying when you can expect to get an answer from them.

O’Donnell concluded by suggesting how the coming months will determine how capable the Minister is in his role, stating how “he currently appears to have no authority inside his Department which has being clearly illustrated by the Departments continued failure in delivering GLAS payments to the time frames he outlined. Ensuring the Charter of Rights is fully adhered to would go some way in convincing us that he is up to the job.”