Submissions to the Agriculture Appeals Office can be made online through a facility which is promising to reduce the number of appeals which are received incomplete.
The Agriculture Appeals Office is the independent body set up in 2000 to deal with farmer complaints on Department decisions, such as a farmer scheme penalties or a farmer missing out on entry to a scheme.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue welcomed the development, stating it will aid farmers in making decisions within the required timeframe.
An appeal against a Department decision must be lodged with the appeals office within three months of the decision being made and, previously, appeals could only be submitted in paper.
“Given the increase in the number of schemes available to farmers and the increased awareness of technologies and use of online systems in farming, I am delighted to learn that the Agriculture Appeals Office have provided this facility to further assist farmers in submitting appeals,” the Minister said.
Minister McConalogue added that: “The Agriculture Appeals Office is obliged to ensure that its functions are performed as efficiently and expeditiously as may be consistent with fairness and natural justice.”
The new online facility will include built-in warnings intended to help farmers to avoid making errors when lodging an appeal, explanations of terms used in the appeal process and the emailing of an appeal summary on the completion of an application for a farmer’s own records.
Through the new system, farmers appealing can also authorise representatives who can receive a copy of any appeals office correspondence and request a suitable appeal hearing option for them - for example, a remote oral hearing or an in-person hearing.
Those who submit an appeal online may receive and reply to query letters by email.