On Friday night last I attended a meeting in Athlone organised by the ICSA on Land Eligibility which is now a major problem in every county around the country. There are no clear guidelines on this issue for Department officials and there are huge discrepancies from one county to the next. If a farmer suffers a penalty of 20% they are now losing all of their payment and that is totally unacceptable. It is clear that in this situation the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing on this important issue. There were three MEP’s at the meeting on Friday night and I impressed on them that it is high time that the people from the Departments of Agriculture and the Environment here meet with the Agriculture and Environment people in Europe to discuss this issue. I will be following this matter up with the Minister for Agriculture so that officials from Europe can come here to see how this matter can be resolved. It is vitally important that all stakeholders here in Ireland are singing from the same hymn sheet on this very important issue. If the situation as it stands is allowed to persist there will be abandonment of land around the country which will certainly be no help in any economic recovery.
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