INHFA – Farmers cannot be penalised
The Irish Natura & Hill farmers Association have responded to recent statement by Minister Andre Doyle, where he mentioned proposed plans on how they hope to tackle the gorse fire epidemic.
This, he said, would result in farmers including illegally burnt land on BPS applications losing their payments for said land as part of the scheme.
The news has been met with hostility throughout the sector with now The INHFA adding their names to the list. CAP Chairman of the INHFA, Colm O’ Donnell had this to say on the changes “any proposal that could see farmers lose payments due to the actions of others is totally unacceptable to the INHFA.”.
Minister Doyle upon announcing the amendments to the scheme, recommended farmers to remove burnt land from applications or risk losing a portion of their payments. Chairman O’Donnell added that the decision taken is “ill advised, confusing and potentially very costly to these farmers, families and communities”.
O’Donnell, like others in recent days, called for clarity from the department on the whole situation he said (they) “must clarify immediately what he means, as it is our understanding that where the applicant (farmer) is found at inspection to be responsible for breaching their requirements, only then can a penalty be applied. So in this instance it would have to be proven that the farmer lit the fire”.
Mr O’Donnell said he received some clarity on the situation from Assistant Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture Food and marine, Dr Kevin Smyth. This was received during a joint Oireachtas held back in 2015 where O’Donnell says Dr Smyth stated “No farmer who is a victim of burning with somebody else having set the fire will be penalised. I know that a number of fires had nothing to do with gorse removal. Some of them were sheer vandalism and nothing else. We will deal with such cases on the basis of force majeure. I can give the Deputy an assurance in that regard.”