EEP Group

Natural Justice for Farmers Affected by SFP Clawbacks and Penalties

Published: Tue, 04 February 2014

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Need for a pragmatic approach to dealing with SFP claw back

Seán Kelly MEP has called for a swift resolution to the on-going problems arising from the new satellite mapping system which is causing hardship for farmers.

“I have met with numerous farmers and farm groups regarding the on-going problems, and it is impossible to understand how farmers, through no fault of their own, are being hit in the pocket with disproportionate penalties and claw backs,” explained the Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South.

“I have written to Minister Coveney asking him to take on board my proposals to address the issue,” he explained.

“My four point plan involves:

  1. Taking a pragmatic approach to penalties and claw backs – there is room for manoeuvre in the EU regulations to give an amnesty to farmers who are being targeted for penalties and claw backs due to errors in the maps supplied to them by the Department – ie through no fault of their own.
  2. Reassess proportionality of error rates – it is disproportionate to treat error rates of 3% and 20% in the same manner.
  3. Have regard to the disproportionate effect on smaller farmers – smaller farmers, by the very nature of their holdings containing a higher percentage of hedgerows and areas with tree canopy coverage, are subject to higher claw backs as a result of the new mapping system.  Due regard must be given to this.
  4. Reform of the Agriculture Appeals Office to take it entirely outside of the Department structure, with an independent board, following the model of An Bord Pleanála and ensuring it is sufficiently resourced to speedily process appeals.  Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.”

“I believe that this plan is feasible and implementable in the short to medium term and I express confidence in the good judgment and excellent work of Minister Coveney in taking on board my proposals,” said MEP Kelly.

“I have also raised these points with European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, who is sympathetic to the concerns raised,” he concluded.


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