Calls for changes to farm inspection penalties

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The current penalties regime for farm inspections in Ireland have been called unfair to farmers, and calls are being made for the system to be overhauled.

Currently, if violations are found during a farm inspection penalties are immediately imposed, without giving the farmer any chance to address the problem.

Galway East TD Sean Canney says that farmers should have a 30 day grace period after an inspection to deal with any issues raised before penalties come into effect.

“Inspections by their nature are very stressful for the farmer and if the inspection allowed 30 days to take corrective action it would remove the stress,” Deputy Canney said.

“Farming is very volatile with flood, drought, and fluctuation in prices so it is only right that we assist the farm family to get the maximum grants they are entitled to.”

The IFA says the main issues found with farms during inspections are inadequate tagging of animals and tracking of herd sizes, the use of unregulated pesticides and fertilizers, and just poor record keeping.

Under the current system, if a farmer is unsatisfied with how an inspection was carried out they can appeal to a Quality Service Unit at the Department of Agriculture.

If you are still unsatisfied with the results of the internal review process, the results of an inspection can be taken to the independent Agricultural Appeals Office.

According to Deputy Canney, the 30 day grace period is presently in place for the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme and works to good effect.

The Independent TD has written to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to ask him to alter the farm inspection regime for single farm payments.

Depending on the scheme a farm is operating under, up to 14 days notice should be given for any farm inspection.

The main ares that are come under the microscope in farm inspections are Eligibility and Cross Compliance.

In an eligibility inspection it will be determined whether the areas that you have declared match with the areas you farm, and that there are no overlapping or duplicated claims.

Cross Compliance inspections check that the land meets good Agricultural and Environment Conditions and that Statutory Management Requirements such as cattle and sheep IDs, nitrates, animal welfare, feed and food hygiene, etc. are adhered to.