At a meeting with senior officials in the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise, IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey strongly rejected new inspection requirements which involve assembling livestock for reading identity tags. Eddie Downey said the new proposals are way over the top and the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must intervene to ensure a more farmer friendly inspection regime.
He said there was no need to assemble livestock to read tags for a Department of Agriculture inspection. “The Department should be able to obtain a reasonable sample of tags without bringing all animals into the farmer’s yard. Assembling animals involves a considerable workload, creates undue stress, adds to costs, and is another farm safety risk.”
The IFA Deputy President highlighted the need for earlier applications, speedier problem solving, processing and payments under the 2012 scheme. In addition, he said unannounced inspections are totally unacceptable and IFA is demanding that no inspector arrives on a farm without reasonable prior notice.
Eddie Downey said IFA also highlighted the need for better co-ordination of inspections and the avoidance of duplication as well as increased tolerances, reduced penalties and a strict adherence to prompt payment deadlines. He said farmers will not tolerate a repeat of last year, where applicants selected for inspection encountered long payment delays.
He said the Department of Agriculture has given IFA a commitment that on-line applications will be processed earlier and any problems will be dealt with well before the payment deadlines including earlier digitisation of any land parcels, where necessary.
The IFA Deputy President made it very clear to the Department that maps, digitisation, processing delays or inspections cannot be allowed to hold up 2012 payments later in the year. The Department gave a commitment to bring forward digitising work by 3 months.
“There are significant advantages in submitting on-line SFP applications. Apart from the commitment to be processed and paid earlier by the Department, farmers and their agents can make changes to their applications and maps online. Last year 54,000 applications were made on-line and every effort should be made to increase this number for 2012.”