The President of ICMSA, John Comer, said that his Association 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.
Mr Comer said that farmers are not against transparency and openness and would, for instance, warmly openness and transparency in the currently mysterious and hidden area of the margins taken by the various components in our retail chain. He said that was the reason farmers smiled when they heard 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 didn’t seem to be any will to publish those figures – or even investigate – retail margins being taken by some of the biggest and most powerful corporations on the planet.
Dealing with the plan to publish the details of Direct Payments, the ICMSA President said that there simply has to be some acknowledgement of the security considerations for the farmers concerned. He said he personally 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’ receives in his or her Basic Payment. But his organisation had 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 it was common knowledge that there are criminal elements that deliberately target rural residents. Mr Comer went on to point out that all this will happen against a background of the closure of rural Garda stations. He said it was not unreasonable to ask why certain people would want to know what some farmer living alone in a remote part of the country were receiving.
He said that ICMSA don’t object to the listing of the payments but wanted some degree of supervision of who is accessing that list and why they are accessing that list.
Ends 29 May 2015.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office