The President of ICMSA, John Comer, said that his Association had – and still has – genuine concerns about the fairness and security of such a move and he said there were very well grounded fears that publishing details of Direct Payments would arouse the interest of the kind of criminals who target rural dwellers and the elderly already.
“The first point I’d make on behalf of ICMSA is that farmers are not against transparency and openness, quite the contrary – there’s no group in Ireland that has a greater interest in openness and transparency in, for instance, the whole area of the margins taken by the various components in our retail chain. That’s why farmers smile when they hear and read about the need for complete transparency and openness – despite years of campaigning by ICMSA and other farm organisations all across the EU, there doesn’t seem to be any will to publish those figures about retail margins”
“Dealing with the plan to publish the details of Direct Payment, ICMSA would make the same point today we made back in 2009 before the legal challenge by German farmers stymied the Commission’s plans to publish SFP at that stage. There simply has to be some acknowledgement of the security considerations of the farmers concerned. ICMSA has no issue with someone going into a Department of Agriculture Office or a Teagasc office and outlining their reasons for knowing what farmer ‘X’ received in his or her Basic Payment. But we have a major problem with a publicly accessible website or list that gives the name, address and amount paid to individual farmers in an environment where we know that there are criminal elements that deliberately target rural residents. And bear in mind that all this will happen against a background of the closure of rural Garda stations. We do not think it’s unreasonable to ask why certain people would want to know what some farmer living alone in a remote part of the country was receiving”, said Mr Comer.
“That is ICMSA’s point: we’re not being paranoid about the right of EU taxpayers to know what we received in our Direct Payment. For the most part, Direct Payments are very modest and no more than a recognition of the money owed to farmers for producing excellent food affordably for the EU’s population. We don’t object to the listing of the payments but we want some degree of supervision of who is accessing that list and why they are accessing that list”, continued the ICMSA President.
Ends 23 March 2015.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office