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DARD handling of Single Farm payments "a shambles"

7 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has described the handling of the Single Farm Payment by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as 'a shambles'.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The reform of CAP and the Single Farm Payment was supposed to ensure that farmers had the freedom to farm and the freedom to diversify.

"However, the culture of bureaucracy and red tape that continues to exist within DARD is making a mockery of that objective.

"The handling of the Single Farm Payment is fast becoming a shambles.

"Farmers have until June 10th to lodge their 2005 IACS / Single Application Forms yet the department is still issuing clarification on the types of non-agricultural activities allowed during the qualifying period for Single Farm Payment.

"For every working day‚s delay, a four percent penalty will be applied to any 2005 SFP payment and from 11 June onwards, the entire entitlement to SFP for 2005 and future years will be lost.

"This approach is overly bureaucratic and the result will be that while many are still struggling to cope with shifting goal posts and red tape that there is a real threat to farmers livelihoods.

"In addition farmers wishing to claim under the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance, Protein Crop Premium or Aid for Energy Crop Schemes, who have not done so may also still qualify by applying on a late 2005 IACS / Single Application form on or before 10 June but again applications to these schemes will face a one percent penalty for every working day‚s delay and applications received after June 10th will lose any entitlement for 2005.

"The impact of these deduction could be devastating. It is totally unworkable that DARD has come at all of this so late and that communication with farmers has been so haphazard.

"Farmers are struggling with the red tape and in many cases not even DARD staff are able to resolve complications." ENDS

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