‘Illegal’ turf cutters face cuts in their farm paymentsJuly 12, 2012 - 7:30am
BY FRANK FARRAGHER
THE Dept of Agriculture have been warned to ‘think long and hard’ before getting embroiled in the bogs controversy that has raged in the West over recent months, following reports this week of possible cuts in the Single Farm Payment for so-called ‘illegal turfcutters’.
The Connacht Tribune has learned from Dept of Agriculture sources that a number of letters have been drafted outlining cuts of up to 20% in Single Farm Payments for farmers who this year cut turf in the designated bogs – however a ‘hold’ has been placed in the posting of the letters amid fears that such a move could completely inflame an already volatile situation.
Farmers receiving EU payments are required by law to be cross-compliant on a wide range of farming and environmental issues and although turfcutting doesn’t take place on their areas of forage, it could be included under the heading of environmental measures and good farming practice.
Connacht IFA Vice-President, Padraic Divilly told The Connacht Tribune that the IFA would fight ‘tooth and nail’ any move to try and impose penalties unilaterally on the farming community.
“If anyone in this country is adjudged to have broken the law, then they are entitled under our laws and constitution to defend themselves in a court of law.
“It would be totally unjust and vindictive if any effort was made to penalise farmers in this way. After the horrendous summer of weather we’ve endured, the last thing any farmer wants to hear of is a penalty of any description being imposed. What we are trying to do, is to get payments fast-forwarded,” said Padraic Divilly.
This week, two local councillors who have been heavily involved in trying to work out an acceptable compromise on the turfcutting issue, told The Connacht Tribune that any move on the Single Farm Payment would be viewed as ‘intimidating, threatening and totally inflammatory’.
Read more in today’s Connacht Tribune