Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson Matt Carthy has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to ensure full Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments are made to farmers hit by floods and fires for which they bear no responsibility
Carthy said a response from the European Commission regarding farmers whose holdings have been hit by natural disaster, confirms that the Department of Agriculture may not have to implement penalties.
They aren’t intended to kick a person in the teeth while they’re already suffering due to a natural disaster
He said farmers such as those with land surrounding Lough Funshinagh in Roscommon and Killarney National Park fear that they may be penalised on their basic payments as a result of flood and fire for which they bear no responsibility and that the Minister had previously stated that there was very little he could do.
“This proposition always appeared to be ludicrous. I have always advocated that the Minister for Agriculture should use the full breadth of his discretion to avoid fining farming families who have already borne the brunt of natural disaster entirely outside of their control,” said Carthy.
“I have engaged with both the Department of Agriculture and the European Commission directly on this matter to seek a resolution – this is not about compensation or emergency provision; it’s about not imposing a fine.
“These fines exist for legitimate reasons such as to prevent burning out of season and protect the environment.They aren’t intended to kick a person in the teeth while they’re already suffering due to a natural disaster,” said the TD.
He said that the European Commission, in response to Chris MacManus MEP, has confirmed that provision exists for situations that arise from force majeure.
“Minister McConalogue urgently needs to make a statement to clarify if he will accept these circumstances as force majeure, and ensure that these farmers are paid their basic payment in full, or if not, his justification for such,” the opposition agriculture spokesman said.