The decision of the European Commission to approve changes prepared by the Department of Agriculture under the 2012 Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) has been described as most disappointing by Independent MEP Marian Harkin.
Ms Harkin called for the new requirements for payments under the DAS to be interpreted in the most flexible way by the Department of Agriculture.
She said: “I am astounded that the European Commission has approved retrospective changes to this scheme which will exclude deserving farmers who for a number of reasons related to personal circumstances, land conditions and climate conditions fail to meet stocking rate requirements of the new scheme.
“If farmers had been informed in time of the requirements for payment under the 2012 scheme, there could be much less complaint but to introduce and have approved retrospective conditions, is, in my view, a dangerous precedent which could in principle have very significant implications for other farmers in the future.
“Having already made clear to the European Commission my opposition to retrospective action being used, I will be seeking a full explanation as to the rationale of this decision.”