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Call for Donegal hill farmers to get fair treatment over gorse fires

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Call for Donegal hill farmers to  get fair treatment over gorse fires

Some Donegal farmers affected by gorse fires in the county last year are being unfairly treated by the Department of Agriculture, it has been claimed.

Donegal Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has slammed the delays in Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments to hill farmers in Donegal following the gorse fires that led to widespread tracts of land deemed to being burned.

Senator Mac Lochlainn, a member of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, said he has received confirmation from Department of Agriculture officials that some of the expected BPS payments will soon be released to the affected farmers but burned land deemed ineligible will result in significant financial losses to many local farmers.

"This is deeply unfair. Large tracts of hill land across Donegal will be deemed ineligible for BPS payments because they were burned in the gorse fires from May of this year. That means large numbers of struggling hill farmers will lose vital financial assistance through no fault of their own.

The Government and the Department of Agriculture have known about this issue for six months and had all of this time to put in place a compensation scheme for the affected farmers whose land may be ineligible under EU rules but they let this come to a head now at the time of year when farmers are anxiously waiting for their annual or staged payments".

"I will be raising this at next week's Oireachtas Agriculture Committee and I am demanding that the Minister and his senior officials immediately engage with the farmer representative organistations to reach a speedy and fair resolution".