The Chairman of ICMSA’s Farm Services & Environment Committee, Pat Rohan, has welcomed the decision of the Department to pay monies due in several hundred AEOS cases where the receipts returned by the participating farmers showed work done in excess of that exactly specified in their plans.
The Association had contacted the Department on foot of a case highlighted by Julian O’Keeffe, the Chairman of North & East Cork ICMSA, who confirmed to this paper that he knows personally of one instance where a farmer whose plan specified the planting of 15 trees and who returned a receipt for 20 trees has had his whole payment delayed and been informed that he has breached the conditions of his plan and that the simple addition of five trees would result in a financial penalty.
“ICMSA welcomes the decision to revisit this particular issue, where farmers actually did more work than was specified in their plans and submitted receipts on that basis only to be told that this constituted a form of non-compliance and would involve financial penalty. In a case known to our North & East Cork Executive, an AEOS participating farmer’s plan specified 15 trees, he actually planted 20 – and so was actually doing more of this good work than the plan demanded – his receipts returned to the Department showed 20 trees and was shocked to be informed that not alone would he not be paid for the 15 trees set out in his plan, but that the Department intended treating the matter as a non-compliance issue and withholding payment till further notice”, said Mr Rohan.
The ICMSA Chairman said that the Association was satisfied that anywhere between 500 and 600 AEOS participants had had payments delayed because of similar problems with their plans
Mr Rohan said that while everyone accepted that there would be occasional anomalies or glitches, and on both sides of these contracts, it was an entirely different matter to be informed that - whatever about works carried out in excess of that agreed – farmers were not going to be paid for that work carried out in complete compliance with their AEOS plans.
He complimented the Department who he said had listened to ICMSA’s arguments and quickly agreed that the fairest solution would be to pay the hundreds of farmers concerned for the work specified in their plans and without any question of penalties or verdict of non-compliance.