26 Mar 2012
NEW SERVICE CHARTER MUST REMOVE FEAR AND STRESS FROM FARM INSPECTIONSUncategorized
Speaking in advance of the 2012 Single Farm Payment application, IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey said the fear factor and stress imposed on farm families over inspections must be removed. He said the IFA is demanding a New Service Charter to cover farm inspections and all aspects of direct payments.
Eddie Downey said there is an unacceptable and constant level of stress and fear among farm families over the possibility of an inspector from the Department of Agriculture arriving in their yard, sometimes unannounced. He said this level of anxiety and worry surrounding the inspection process is totally unacceptable. “Farmers are entitled to fair and reasonable procedures and it is no longer acceptable that inspectors can just walk into farmyards unannounced. The dignity and rights of farmers must be protected under the inspection process.”
The IFA Deputy President said farmers have adopted new technology with more than half of all Single Farm Payment applications now done online. He said the inspection regime needs to change and the fear and stress for farmers must be eliminated from the regime with the adoption of a more farmer friendly customer service approach.
Eddie Downey said the entire inspection process needs to be simplified and streamlined in an efficient and more farmer friendly manner. He said currently farm inspections are extremely complex and bureaucratic with a full inspection similar to a forensic examination involving hundreds of questions, many of which are incomprehensible. He said the Department’s checklist for inspections goes way beyond any reasonable interpretation of the EU regulations.
The IFA Deputy President said IFA is demanding a new farmer friendly Service Charter to cover all farm inspections and include the following basic principles;
<span>-<span> </span></span>Delivery of all payments across all schemes on time within agreed deadlines
<span>-<span> </span></span>Fair and reasonable advance notice of inspections for all schemes
<span>-<span> </span></span>The provision of proper information and awareness to each farmer by the Department
<span>-<span> </span></span>Better co-ordination and elimination of duplication of inspections by different bodies
<span>-<span> </span></span>Inspections cannot be allowed delay payments
<span>-<span> </span></span>Early, fast and efficient resolution of problems to ensure payments are not delayed
<span>-<span> </span></span>Reasonable tolerance levels providing farmers with the opportunity to achieve compliance
<span>-<span> </span></span>Elimination of excessive penalties
<span>-<span> </span></span>Independent and fair appeals procedure
Eddie Downey said with direct payments making up such a major portion of net farm income on most farms, payments delays and an intolerable fear of being selected for inspection are no longer acceptable. He said Minister Coveney must ensure that the system is changed for the better.
Eddie Downey said the IFA has written to the Minister requesting that negotiations on a New Service Charter commence immediately and are concluded before the land eligibility and other major inspections proceed this year.