Irwin queries ‘inactive’ status rulings

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Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has written to the DARD Minister to raise concerns on the issue of farmers being deemed ‘inactive’ when claiming the new Basic Farm Payment.

Mr Irwin said he had been approached by individuals who have been actively farming for many years and by any straightforward assessment would be considered ‘active’ yet department officials had ruled their status as ‘inactive’.

He said this was a huge concern for a proportion of farmers who have found themselves in this position and he has written to the Minister for Agriculture to try and find a way forward.

Mr Irwin stated: “Following on from my initial conversations on this issue at this year’s Winter Fair I have had further contact from farmers who have also found themselves in this situation.

“It is certainly concerning for those farmers, especially as they had been relying on receiving a Basic Farm Payment.

“I have written to the DARD minister and asked her to take a very close look at this issue and whilst it may only affect a small proportion of the overall number of claimants to the BFP scheme, it has had a significant impact on those people who I have spoken to who have been told they are not classed as ‘active’.”

Mr Irwin concluded: “Farmers understand the concept of the BFP scheme supporting those actively involved in farming, however in a number of the cases clearly ‘active’ farmers have been disregarded.

“It is vital that the minister and her department moves to address this matter in order that the farmers affected are treated fairly and equitably and enabled to access the financial assistance under the Basic Farm Payment scheme.”