THE Dept. of Agriculture has been accused of providing one set of rules for farmers – but a different one for their own inspectors – in relation to land eligibility for CAP payments.
MEP Luke Ming Flanagan said that one of the key issues in relation to land eligibility was an EU regulation [1307/2013] which set out the principle that Natura 2000 lands, which were eligible for payment in 2008 should still be eligible for payment.
“It is astonishing that this important principle is not the first item in the training note for inspectors [Dept. of Agriculture].
“This should be the base line for the inspection – namely what is the background on this land. Is it working under a restriction,” said MEP Flanagan.
His comments come in the wake of a visit by a delegation from the Irish Hill Farmers and Natura Association meeting with EU Commission officials on the issue of land eligibility for CAP payments.
He said that the ‘2008 land eligibility principle’ barely ‘got a mention’ in the training note for Department inspectors – instead the focus was on vegetation cover on the ground.
“This ignores the fact that farmers on these lands are restricted in the stock they can carry. This copper fastens the belief among farmers that despite assurances from Dept. officials, in reality the inspectors on the ground are working to a different agenda,” said Ming Flanagan.
He said that there was also another major issue with the fact that in relation to the inspectors’ guidelines, no mention was made of the timing of inspections.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.