IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart has said the independence of valuers in the on-farm market valuation scheme is central to the credibility of the scheme and must be safeguarded in the new panel being established.
The IFA Chairman said the Department of Agriculture, through the imposition of penalty points on valuers and bureaucratic controls in the current scheme, has eroded the independence of the valuation process; this must be addressed.
He said it is very disappointing that the Department of Agriculture saw fit to draft and publish the tender for live valuation services without consultation with farmers and, as a result, have generated a process that removes a large degree of independence from successful applicants in valuing farmers’ cattle.
The application of penalties and sanctions on valuers, based on their assessment of the market value of animals, is unacceptable in an independent live valuation scheme and must be removed.
The DAFM cannot continue to maintain this level of influence on independent valuers who are qualified professionals in the valuation of livestock.
Adequate numbers of suitably qualified valuers must be contracted to ensure all farmers have a choice when it comes to the valuation of their animals.
Bert Stewart said valuers are required to be independent of all parties in carrying out their duties and to provide for this, the Department must engage with IFA in advance of finalising contractual arrangements and working conditions for the new panel, constraints applied to the current panel of valuers must be removed and the independence of valuers restored if the credibility of the scheme is to be protected.