Weaning rules catch many out

There are probably just as many difficulties with the smaller schemes as there are with the direct payment schemes which are worth €1.8bn annually to Irish farmers.

Weaning rules have caught out many farmers in the Suckler Scheme

Fairly typical is a farmer who registered 31 beef breed animals in the 2009 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Under the terms of the scheme, the calves should have been weaned in at least two groups. This applicant provided information that he had weaned all the animals together. Therefore the animals were not eligible for payment.

The applicant sought a review of this decision and submitted revised weaning dates.

However, the new dates conflicted with previous information submitted to the department and therefore could not be accepted.

In Co Kerry, an applicant was wondering why he hadn’t received ewe payments.

The answer seemed to be that the farmer didn’t have any ewes, at least on paper.

Farmers participating in the Grassland Sheep Scheme are required to submit a completed annual sheep census to the department.

Although an application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Grassland Sheep Scheme was received from this farmer, no breeding ewes had been declared, so no payment was issued.

Clearly, it is hard to pull the wool over the eyes of the department, as discovered by a farmer looking for a suckler payment, who registered four animals in 2008, seven in 2009 and nine in 2010.

During processing of the case, errors were encountered in the case of calves born in each of the three years.

Letters were issued to the applicant in Aug 2009 and Jun 2011, in respect of the 2008 and 2009-born calves.

The department received no reply from the applicant. In addition, the applicant did not register any of the measures required under the terms and conditions in respect of the 2010-born calves.

The applicant did not attend the mandatory training course and therefore was excluded from the scheme with effect from 2010.

REPS

Bovines not excluded from watercourses, and an unfenced water well proved costly for a Cork farmer in REPS 4. The farmer started REPS 4 in May 2009 and received payments for the first year of the contract, while 75% of the year two payment was issued in Apr 2011, for €5,581.69.

Following an inspection, a 25% penalty was imposed for bovines not excluded from watercourses, and a 35% penalty for an unfenced well.

These were deducted from the balancing 25% payment for 2010, with the result that no balancing payment was due and overpayment of €2,604.78 was deducted from the 2011 payment.


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