Following a meeting with senior inspectors in the Department of Agriculture last week, IFA President John Bryan has called on the Minister of Agriculture Simon Coveney to undertake a full review of the inspection and penalty regime across all the schemes in his Department and for a new Charter of Rights to protect farmers.
John Bryan said farmers are incensed that the Minister would allow his Department to increase penalties and hardship significantly on farm families over the last 2 years through the inspection system. In addition, he said the Minister must instruct his Department to release the real figures on inspections and penalties including land eligibility in an open and transparent way.
The IFA President said “it appears from the figures on penalties that there is serious pressure being applied in the Department from the top down to impose more and more penalties.”
John Bryan said the latest deluge of letters to farmers imposing land eligibility penalties are just another example where the Minister must intervene. He said “it is totally unacceptable that the Department are now going back and imposing penalties retrospectively as far back as 2008, demanding farmers to take out land areas which in some cases were already inspected and approved by the Department.”
John Bryan said one of the major reasons given by the Department of Agriculture for the significant increase in penalties under nitrates is the duplication with County Council inspections. He called on Minister Coveney and the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to address this unnecessary duplication which is leading to substantially increased inspections on farmers.
John Bryan said that IFA also called for the Minister to secure a 70% advance payment on the Single Farm Payment from October 16th 2013. The Department also confirmed that they are in line to make full Disadvantage Areas payments from week beginning September 23rd.