5th November 2014
ICSA West Cork chairman Dermot Kelleher has called for a public clarification by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to the to the 19 commonage farmers in Castletownbere who are still awaiting their Disadvantaged Area Scheme and Single Farm Payments due to an error on the Department’s behalf.
“These 19 farmers, who share the Kilcatherine commonage on the Beara peninsula, were left without payments due to an error in the digitisation of the maps, which the Department has admitted,” said Mr. Kelleher. “Despite this admission, they have been told that they won’t receive any of their Single Payment until December, and while their DAS payment will apparently be paid as soon as the system issue is resolved, there is no indication as to when this will be. These farmers have families to feed and bills to pay, and at the very least, the Department should issue a public statement in the local press admitting the error. At least then their creditors could see that these farmers were genuinely waiting for this money to arrive.”
“If the shoe was on the other foot, things would be very different,” continued Mr. Kelleher. “We have seen cases where farmers erred, mainly in good faith, in their Single Payment applications, and they are faced with up to 100% penalties, yet when the mistake is on the Department’s side, there is no question of such penalties, and the farmers involved cannot even get what is their due.”
“This situation also begs the question of whether there have been other similar errors in digitisation of maps which may have gone unnoticed. Farmers have suffered deductions for errors of as little as 0.01ha, but is it now possible that the mistakes may have been with the digitisation of the maps rather than at the farmers’ end?”