Farmers were not able to submit their own nitrates derogation applications after the Department changed its systems.
A farmer who has been prevented from submitting an online nitrates derogation application has said farmers need to be informed of changes to Department of Agriculture systems.
Lorraine Farrelly from Ballinlough in Co Meath told the Irish Farmers Journal she has been completing an online application for her father since 2016 but has not been able to do so in 2021.
“I have been trying to submit my father’s application online since 3 March and the system won’t allow me to do so.
“I emailed and rang the Department and eventually on 15 March I was put in contact with a Department official who informed me that they had changed the rules and all applications must be completed by an adviser.”
There have been no articles or letters sent to farmers stating that their applications must be completed by an adviser
This requirement is not explicitly stated in the terms and conditions for the scheme.
In a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal, the Department said a new IT system was put in place for the derogation this year.
“An inadvertent impact of the system is that, for this year only, farmers who wish to make their own applications can do so only by email to Nitrates@agriculture.gov.ie,” a spokesperson said.
Farrelly said: “There have been no articles or letters sent to farmers stating that their applications must be completed by an adviser. There seems to be a complete lack of respect in not informing us.”
I have a level 8 degree in agriculture, all my work is above board and all inspections are passed
She said the only option she was given was to submit a paper application by post.
“An application that I could have completed in 30 minutes has been going on since early March.
“I have a level 8 degree in agriculture, all my work is above board and all inspections are passed. I would say I have the knowledge and experience to follow rules and regulations around environmental protection.
“I understand rules and regulations change but farmers have to be notified. If I didn’t have the application in on time we would be facing penalty for breaching regulations,” she pointed out.