A farmer in the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme whose payments were stopped as a result of not having the adequate stocking rate won an appeal against the Department in 2019.
The farmer made the appeal on the grounds that the he had been very unwell having had a stroke. Medical documents were provided, according to the 2019 Agricultural Appeals Office annual report.
The farmer had to sell cattle due to ill health and he did have the required stocking levels in the 2017 period by way of owning horses and donkeys, both of which produced offspring.
He subsequently sold the horses and donkeys in the 2018 and did not have the logbooks which were given to the new owners.
He asked that consideration be given to their ill health and previous stocking rates to allow the subsidies for the relevant 2017 year.
At the oral hearing, the Department’s representative gave the background and details of the application.
They outlined the stocking rate requirements, referred to the appellant’s illness going back to 2014 and that fact that they had enough stock in 2016. The Department outlined how it was unable to change the decision on the grounds of force majeure as the year the appellant had the stroke was not relevant to their 2017 application.
The farmer’s representative gave details of the health issues involved and of the farmer’s health deteriorating in 2017 and other information they considered relevant to the his circumstances and non-compliance.
The farmer’s representative also referred to the penalty being disproportionate and grounds of force majeure due to a serious illness. Further medical documentation was provided to the appeals officer after the oral hearing.
In their decision, the appeals officer had regard to the terms and conditions of the scheme, the relevant EU legislation and the circumstances particular to this case.
Considering the medical evidence supplied after the oral hearing which detailed the serious deterioration in appellant’s health and memory in 2017 and taking account of the particular circumstances of the case, the appeals officer overturned the Department’s decision on the grounds that force majeure was applicable in this case.
The appeal was allowed.