Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions (247)

Michael Healy-Rae


247. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a farm payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42818/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named submitted his 2017  Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application on 2 May 2017 in which he declared the lands he was farming.  He was subsequently notified on 4 December 2017 that land included on his 2017 BPS application was identified as ineligible for the purpose of a BPS payment which resulted in the creation of an over-claim on his 2017 BPS application.  The person named was notified that he would not be paid BPS on this land (deemed to be over claimed) and that an administrative penalty of over 10% would also be applied to his 2017 BPS payment.   

The person named submitted correspondence to my Department in December 2017 outlining the position  with regard to the land concerned and, in March 2018, he also submitted an affidavit in support of his declarations.  Following a review of the information submitted, the decision was that a BPS payment would not be made on the ineligible land. However, the 10% administrative penalty was waived.  The person named was notified of this decision on 11 April 2018 and he was also given the opportunity to appeal, within 3 months, the decision  to the independent Agriculture Appeal Office.   

The Agriculture Appeals Office operates independently of my Department. Regulation 5 (2) of the Agriculture Appeals Regulations, 2002, (S.I. No. 193 of 2002), requires an appeal to be made within 3 months from the date of the notification of the Department decision. The deadline for submission of the appeal in this case was 11 July 2018. I am advised that an appeal was submitted to the Agriculture Appeals Office on 12 November 2018, 4 months after the deadline. The person named was advised in a letter dated 12 November 2018 that was issued by the Agriculture Appeals Office that the appeal was received outside the 3 month timeframe.

In accordance with Regulation 5 (3) of the Agriculture Appeals Regulations, 2002, which provides for an appeal to be submitted late where the Director considers that there are exceptional circumstances, the person named was also informed that if there were exceptional circumstances why the appeal was not lodged by the deadline, it was open to him to write to the Director of Agriculture Appeals by 26 November 2018 outlining any such circumstances and to enclose any relevant documentation. The person named was also provided with the option of contacting the Office of the Ombudsman.

On 2 April 2019, an e-mail was submitted by the agricultural agent of the person named to my Department’s BPS division requesting a further review. This appeal and supporting documentation were forwarded to the Agriculture Appeals Office on the 2 April 2019.  Following an examination of the documentation submitted, the person named was advised that the Director of Agriculture Appeals had determined that the late appeal could not be accepted. I am advised that a further submission was received by the Agriculture Appeals Office from the person named and enclosing further documentation.  That documentation is currently being examined.