Following recent gorse fires the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has outlined a number of important messages for farmers.
DAERA wishes to highlight the potential impact of gorse fires on applications for payment under area-based schemes. While this can be a challenging situation for farmers and land owners, they need to ensure that they take the right actions now to safeguard their payments under area based schemes.
EU rules only allow payment on land that is eligible, therefore, if you have been affected by a gorse fire you should apply to DAERA within 15 working days of the fire, or when the farm business is in a position to do so, for consideration for ‘force majeure’.
You will have to demonstrate that land has become ineligible as a result of a gorse fire and that the circumstances of the fire were unforeseen.
To do this, you are advised to immediately contact Area-Based Schemes Payment Branch on: 0300 200 7848.
When you tell DAERA of a ‘force majeure’ you will be asked to complete an FML1 application form (available on the DAERA website: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/force-majeure) and return it to Area-Based Schemes Payment Branch.
DAERA will look at each request individually so that they can confirm that despite taking all reasonable measures to counteract their effects, the force majeure or exceptional circumstances prevented you from meeting your obligations.
You will be asked for information, supported by evidence where appropriate, of the steps you have taken to prevent or lessen the effect of these circumstances.
Each case is considered on an individual basis and it is important that farmers detail all the facts, including where and when the fire started and when the incident was reported to the police or the Fire and Rescue Service.
Telling DAERA now will allow them to help ensure that farmers do not lose money unnecessarily
More information on force majeure and its relevance to those claiming area based scheme payments is contained within the ‘Guide to the Basic Payments Scheme 2018’ (Page 38) which can be accessed via the DAERA Website: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/2018-guide-basic-payment-scheme