UFU respond to Agriculture Minister’s independent panel comment

Thursday, 19 November, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) are pleased that the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister (DAERA) Edwin Poots, has stated that decisions made by an independent panel will be final. The comments were made on Tuesday (17 November) during the Northern Ireland Assembly in response to DUP MLA William Irwin’s question, on cross-compliance penalties.

UFU president Victor Chesnutt said, “Agriculture Minister Edwin Poot’s clarification during the Assembly yesterday that he would not be overturing the decisions made by an independent panel, is positive news. In 2018 the UFU had no option but to progress a judicial review against DAERA to maintain the independent panel at a second stage appeal. During this process, the UFU lobbied that the independent panel’s decision should be final however, we were told that this would require a legislation change and unfortunately while we maintained the second stage of the independent panel, this fell into the political vacuum with the devolved government.

“Our technical team have been dealing with members who were awarded in favour of, by the independent panel at the second stage of an appeal, only for DAERA to reverse the decision. This has been incredibly frustrating and stressful for our members whose only option was to take further legal action. However, financially this was not possible for the majority.

“We are glad that the Agriculture Minister has listened to our lobbying and is willing to uphold the final decision of an independent panel in matters going forward. This will ensure that our members do not have to endure this unjust treatment by the Department again. We hope the legislation change for this to happen can happen sooner rather than later.”