Addressing delegates at the ICSA Annual Conference, new ICSA president Patrick Kent said that retrospective penalties for land eligibility overclaims cannot be tolerated.
Mr Kent said the “immense injustice” felt by many farmers over the Department’s land eligibility review cannot be ignored. “These farmers are coming under extreme pressure to pay bills, which are higher than usual anyway because of the impact of the fodder crisis.”
The suggestion that fines could be dated from 2009 is unacceptable, he stated. “I am absolutely appalled that there is a serious threat of five years’ retrospective penalties. This cannot be tolerated, and I want to make it clear that ICSA cannot accept such injustice.”
He added that the EU Commission had “moved the goalposts” unfairly. Many farmers are now suffering a penalty on land that they were told was an excellent habitat when they were in REPS. They were forbidden from interfering with the bio-diversity on that land in REPS; now the signal is that the land should be bulldozed or burnt.” Mr Kent also highlighted the severe pressure being faced by bull beef producers. “On the ground, there is a sense of impending disaster in beef.”