Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen this week announced that she has commissioned a review of the process by which farmers can ask DAERA to reconsider a decision of an area-based payment.
Miss McIlveen explained that while the current ‘Review of Decisions’ process has been meeting objectives, she was concerned by the length of time that was taken before final decisions were issued.
“I have therefore asked my officials to review our current provision and put in place a process which better meets the needs of farmers for the 2017 Scheme year. This work will be taken forward in consultation with our stakeholders over the coming months.
“However, my immediate priority is to address the timeliness of final decisions for those already awaiting reviews arising from the introduction of CAP Reform area-based schemes. Therefore, my officials will shortly engage with stakeholders to determine a means by which ‘Review of Decisions’ can be streamlined and made more efficient.”
The introduction of the CAP Reform area based schemes has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of ‘Review of Decisions’ applications received by the Department. ‘Review of Decisions’ is an important part of the decision making process that provides farmers and farm businesses with the opportunity to seek a reconsideration, where they believe the Department did not reach the correct decision in respect of an area-based payment.
The announcement by the minister was welcomed by the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
“The current review process has been an on-going issue for farmers, who remain frustrated by the time it takes for a final review decision to be taken, with some cases still not closed even after a few years. In most cases this not only impacts on the year in question but also has consequences for subsequent years,” said UFU president Barclay Bell.
He added: “These payments are vital to farm businesses and any delay creates a great deal of uncertainty for those who have bills to pay and a business to run.”