Farmers are still waiting for an independent review panel for agricultural appeals to be established, four years after a review committee found that such a panel be set up to review the decisions of appeals officers.
Engagement took place last year with relevant stakeholders regarding establishment of the independent review panel and “work is progressing on the required amendments to legislation,” the 2021 annual report for the Agricultural Appeals Office said.
Currently, the director of the office may revise any decision of an appeals officer if it appears to her that the decision was erroneous. Twenty-five farmer-requested reviews took place last year. Of this number, two were partially revised by the director, one was revised by the director, one was revised by an appeals officer and 21 remained unchanged.
Overall in 2021, there was a 6% increase in the number of agricultural appeals received by the office, up from 760 in 2020 to 809. This was the highest number of appeals since 2013.
Some 757 appeals cases were closed by the office last year, up from the 358 the previous year.
Of the cases decided in 2021, 37% were allowed, partially allowed, or the Department decision was revised in favour of the appellant after the appeal was submitted, 38% were disallowed and 25% were withdrawn, invalid, or received after the three-month deadline.
Some 110 cases which were closed in 2021 related to the Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS), over 100 related to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme and over 90 related to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).
Under the law, farmers may appeal the decision of their case to the High Court and they may also apply to take judicial review proceedings. Judicial Review legal proceedings were initiated in 2021 in one case.
Last year, almost 240 appeals (29% of all appeals) were received in relation to the BDGP, 143 were received under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and 80 were received in relation to GLAS.
Some 73 appeals were made in respect of the ANC scheme, 61 in respect of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) and 46 related to the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP).