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McHugh raises concerns of fines being imposed on farmers in Six Counties

1 July, 2003

Sinn Féin's Six County Agriculture Spokesman Cllr Gerry McHugh today warned of potentially heavy fines, which will be imposed on farmers, from Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Grants and Subsidies Division.

Mr McHugh said:

"Since the introduction of new EU regulations in 2002 for any irregular animal found in a cattle claim, the fine will be aggregated across all cattle claims, lodged by that farmer. In effect this means that if one animal is irregular then a fine will be imposed on the total amount the farmer claims, which could run into thousands of pounds.

"It has come to my attention that failure to notify DARD when purchasing cattle is creating fines. A No Notification (NNO), a No Movement Notification (NMN) and a Late Movement Notification (LMN) is also causing some farmers to lose hundreds of pounds.

"It is vital that before any farmer puts in a claim for Suckler Cow premium that they get a herd print out and check for the status of their animals. If the status cannot be changed then the farmer should not claim for that animal. This fine may also apply to Slaughter Premium and to Beef Special Premium.

"I have written to the head of the Grants and Subsides Division, with a series of detailed question's on this issue and will be requesting a meeting in the near future to demand that farmers are informed of these new rules; that they are told of the amount they will receive in the year and the amount of the fine imposed. It is totally wrong for a farmer to be fined across his or her total claim when only two or three animals are affected.

"This is another example of DARD's obsession, with oppressive and negative implementation of rules, at time when farm incomes are at £88 per week." ENDS

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