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Doherty welcomes announcement of Heifer Compensation payments

11 November, 2008

Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP and Assembly Agriculture Committee member has welcomed the announcement by Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildrenew MP, that compensation payments of around £250k will be made to farmers under the 2003 Suckler Cow Premium Scheme (SCPS).

He said,

"I welcome this move by Minister Michelle Gildernew to put right an injustice that was done to a section of the farming community by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development during the Direct Rule tenure.

"One of the conditions of the 2003 Suckler Cow Premium was that the number of heifers included in a claim must include a minimum of 5% and not exceed 40% of the total number of animals claimed. However, The Departments Guidance Notes on this stipulation at the time were not clear and it is now right that those farmers penalised at the time are now being compensated for their loss."

In making the announcement Minister Michelle Gildernew said,

"This was a complex case but having considered the matter carefully, including taking legal advice, I have decided that the appeal lodged following the court case on 29 August 2008, should not be continued with. I have also decided that 150 other cases to which this judgment reads across, should be reviewed and compensation, including interest, paid where appropriate."

The Minister continued:

"The Department will be writing shortly to each of the applicants concerned. The process will take a little time but I expect that all cases will have been reviewed and compensation paid within the next 12 weeks.

"When I came into office last year I gave a firm commitment, as a local Minister, to do my best for the farming community and I see this decision as reinforcing my commitment." ENDS

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