Just days after being appointed, Minister for Agriculture, Barry Cowen has an invitation to attend Longford District Court and explain his Department's response to allegations there is a rising cohort of 'rogue farmers' undermining the country's beef industry.
Judge Seamus Hughes issued the invite at a sitting of Longford District Court to the Minister after Department officials prosecuted a Westmeath man for allegedly procuring medication for cattle without a required veterinary prescription.
The allegation is that five bottles of Imizol, a sterile solution used for the treatment and prevention of bovine babesiosis or redwater fever, were obtained at a veterinary clinic across the border in Co Fermanagh.
It was alleged a pre-signed cheque had been handed to another individual as part of the transaction in an offence which took place in May 2018 at Baratogher, Rathowen, Co Westmeath.
In evidence provided by Department veterinary surgeon Luke O'Riordan, the court was told how such incidences were becoming more difficult to detect due to Government cutbacks.
"I think there is an absence of political will," he said. "In my view, it's a case of don't look, don't find."
The comments drew a terse reaction from Judge Seamus Hughes, who said there appeared to be an increasing number of "rogue farmers" who were hell bent on compromising the quality of Ireland's export beef trade for monetary gain.
Judge Hughes said he would ask the Minister to come to Longford to explain his department's response to the allegations.
"I am not completing this case here today," he said. "I will invite the Minister to come to court. He won't come, I know that and he will send a senior civil servant, but I want a representative from the Department here in court as this is of grave consequence to the national herd and export trade."
The case was adjourned until September 15.