Farmers in Ireland submitted a greater number of appeals for the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) and the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2022 compared to any other schemes administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), according to a recent report. The Agriculture Appeals Office (AAO) received a total of 122 appeals related to BEAM and 122 appeals related to BPS from dissatisfied farmers. In contrast, there were only 12 appeals for the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme (PEPS) and another 12 for the Young Farmers Scheme (YFS).
The AAO’s 2022 annual report revealed that the highest number of appeals came from County Galway. A total of 69 appeals were received from farmers in the county. The AAO’s main function is to provide a fair and efficient appeals service to applicants of DAFM-administered schemes. Farmers who are dissatisfied with DAFM’s decisions regarding their entitlements under various schemes have the option to submit an appeal to the AAO and the Office of the Ombudsman. In 2022, the AAO received a total of 635 agriculture appeals, marking a 22% decrease compared to the 809 appeals received in 2021.
During 2022, a total of 466 oral hearings were conducted across the country, primarily in Teagasc offices. This was a significant increase from the 282 oral hearings held the previous year. The AAO closed 930 cases in 2022. Of these, 44% of appeals were either fully or partially allowed, 40% were disallowed, and 16% were withdrawn, invalid, or submitted after the 3-month deadline. County Galway had the highest number of appeals, with 69 submitted by farmers, followed by County Mayo with 66 appeals. County Dublin had the fewest appeals in 2022.
According to the AAO, a total of 153 cases were revised by DAFM in favor of farmers who had made submissions to the office in 2022. Among the various schemes, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme had the highest number of decisions revised by DAFM. The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) had the highest number of appeals that were either fully or partially allowed, with 58 fully allowed and 15 partially allowed appeals.
In conclusion, the AAO’s report highlights the significant number of appeals made by farmers regarding the BEAM and BPS schemes. It also emphasizes the importance of the AAO’s role in providing a fair and efficient appeals service to farmers dissatisfied with DAFM’s decisions. The increase in oral hearings conducted and the cases closed by the AAO in 2022 demonstrates the growing demand for the appeals process. Moving forward, it is crucial for DAFM to carefully review and revise decisions to ensure fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural schemes.