The Agriculture Appeals Office (AAO) must “move swiftly” and set concrete dates for live in-person appeals, the INHFA has claimed.

The hill-farmer body called on the Department of Agriculture to prioritise the scheduling of appeals hearings now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy maintained that some farmers have issues with payments and penalties dating back to 2018.

“It is vital that farmers get clarity and closure on their individual cases,” he said.

The suspension of in-person appeals compounded the difficulties involved in sorting out disputed cases and exacerbated an already slow appeals process, Roddy maintained.

With the new CAP commencing in 2023, he said all appeals needed to be finalised this year so as to provide farmers with the “necessary clarity” going into the new programme.

Live appeals, the preferred option for most farmers, have been extremely difficult to arrange since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.

The absence of in-person appeals has led to extended delays in the appeals process and this has impacted negatively on farmer incomes, Roddy explained.