IFA Deputy President Tim O Leary said the New Charter of Farmer Rights has to be a substantial improvement on the last Charter across all of the key areas affecting direct payments and services to farmers. He said real progress on inspections, payments and tolerances must be made in the negotiations on the New Charter. Tim O Leary was speaking following the most recent meeting on the Charter between IFA and the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise.
IFA has put forward detailed submissions to the Department of Agriculture setting out farmer demands under a New Charter of Rights for farmers. Tim O’Leary said the negotiations are progressing and some progress has been made in the area of payment targets and deadlines. However, he said he has written to Minister Coveney over the lack of progress on key issues involving inspections, notice of inspection, tolerances and penalties and the need for major movement by the Department in order to bring greater fairness and equity to the situation.
In addition, Tim O Leary said IFA is working hard to reduce the level of inspections and particularly eliminate duplication between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment on nitrates inspections.
The IFA Deputy President said the New Charter must be farmer friendly, written in farmer language and helpful in removing the unacceptable stress and agitation around the inspection process for farmers. He said the Charter must deliver a meaningful and positive impact for both farmers and the Department of Agriculture on the delivery of direct payments, farm schemes and services.
Tim O’ Leary said IFA has also demanded that the new Investigation Unit in the Department, announced by Minister Coveney this week following the close down of the SIU, must also be subject to the New Charter of Farmers Rights, like all other sections of the Department of agriculture.