Charter moves on, But Issues Remain – IFA

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Speaking at a meeting following the announcement of the updated Farmers Charter of Rights, IFA Connacht Regional Chair, Brendan Golden highlighted the importance of the declaration, representing a governing framework for fairness, respect, transparency and best practice across all areas affecting payments and services for farmers.  

“Negotiations have been challenging, but IFA has secured progress on a number of issues, all of which will serve farmers well in a practical and real way over the next number of years in their interaction with the Department of Agriculture and their participation in schemes which are critical to farmers’ incomes,” he said. 

“Farm payments will return to their traditional payment schedule for 2024, with ANC reverting to the third week of September. A framework for TAMS approvals was agreed, starting from the closing date of each Tranche. Inspections in the main will be announced in the new Charter, with inspectors required to provide a written preliminary report before leaving the farm, rather than in the subsequent days, as originally proposed by the Department,” he said.   

“The Department has committed in the Charter to fully engaging with farm organisations in the development of schemes and discussing any subsequent changes to Terms & Conditions in a timely manner.” 

“This is an important addition to the Charter to ensure that schemes are designed in a practical and straightforward way, and to ensure the goalposts are not changed after farmers have entered into the scheme”. 

Outlining the importance of the ACRES and ANC schemes Mr. Golden said:  

“It is critical that the flexibility announced by the Minister provides farmers with the maximum timeframes necessary for these monies to be recouped and agreed on an individual basis. Farmers must have clarity on where they stand as soon as possible because ACRES has operated in a vacuum of uncertainty for far too long. IFA hasought an urgent meeting with the Department personnel to ensure the flexibilities provided for are clarified and clearly communicated to farmers before any recoupment takes place”.      

While he acknowledged that there have been steps in the right direction Brendan Golden said that more needs to be done by the Department on several outstanding issues between now and the Mid Term Review  

“The DAFM must assess and review the capabilities of its IT infrastructure to avoid future payment/processing delays. It can’t always fall back on the farmer,” he said. 

“The important thing today is that a strong Farmers Charter of Rights has been delivered. Attention now turns to the Monitoring Committee, which needs to be stood up as soon as possible so the Department can be held to account for the mess they are making with ACRES.” 


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