The President of ICMSA, Mr. John Comer, today called on the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine to reverse its decision to impose retrospective fines on farmers back to 2008, a decision which is totally unacceptable and indeed is in sharp contrast to the position facing a farmer when he/she makes a mistake in that he/she is not allowed to correct the problem retrospectively.
ICMSA members have been contacting the Association expressing serious concern that they have received letters informing them of retrospective fines due to area issues back in 2008 but with absolutely no explanation as to why this fine is being imposed. The penalty is being imposed on both the Single Farm Payment and the Disadvantaged Area Payment.
This decision, Mr. Comer said, is very unfair treatment of farmers. If there was a problem in 2008, the Department should have identified the problem then and dealt with it and not five years later in a year that farmers are struggling to make ends meet due to the very difficult last year and the high costs associated with it.
Farmers rightly assume that once payment has been made, they are compliant and these letters have come as a total shock to farmers. It is quite clear that the Department have improved technology in terms of identifying land and its usage but it is simply unacceptable that farmers are being fined without explanation for area issues five years ago when the farmer was cleared for payment at that time.
Mr. Comer concluded by saying that the lack of explaination and tone of the letter combined with the threat of a penal interest rate of 3% per annum is unacceptable from a State Department and believes the decision to impose fines retrospectively must be reversed immediately.
Ends 26 July 2013
John Comer, 087 2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087 6168758
ICMSA Press Office