Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 26 April 2018

I’m not happy with the Department inspector, what can I do?

We had a Department inspection this week. I must say I found the inspector pure ignorant. When checking the cattle for tags he was way too rough and all the cattle went crazy in the shed. They would not be used to strangers and the way he treated them was totally wrong.

Later in the evening I discovered one off my best bullocks badly lame and couldn’t walk. I brought him to the vet and was told he had a broken leg.  I was also told that because the bullock couldn’t walk the factory would not take him.

The bullock had to be put down in the end. I think it is outrageous that I was treated like this and I’m sure the animal broke its leg when in the shed with the vet and all the animals were agitated. Surely there is some way I can be compensated?

Dear reader, thank you for your query. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine established Farmers’ Charter of Rights 2015-2020 which aims to enhance the delivery of services and schemes to clients of the Department.

The Charter sets out the level of on-farm inspections to be undertaken by the Department across the various Farm Schemes.  One such inspection relates to Bovine ID and Registration which I assume is the inspection you recently had. The Charter sets out general principles applicable to on-farm inspections and these include:

  • The inspecting officer on arrival will introduce himself to the farmer and produce identification;
  • The inspecting officer will be provided with training on how to conduct their inspections;
  • Inspection staff will be provided on an ongoing basis with guidance on the need to treat the farmer with the utmost respect and fairness;
  • On the day of the visit, the farmer will be given a preliminary inspection report prepared by the inspector and the farmer will be given an opportunity to sign the report and comment on same.

The Farmer’s Charter also outlines the procedure if you wish to make a complaint. If you are unhappy with any aspect of the Department’s services, then you must firstly contact the manager of the division who will look into the matter for you.

If you are dissatisfied with the response received from the manager, then you can lodge a complaint with the Quality Service Unit who will examine any customer service aspect of the complaint. The Quality Service Unit will have the matter fully and impartially investigated by an officer who was not involved in the incident giving rise to the complaint. 

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The Department sets out timelines for dealing with complaints such as all complaints will be acknowledged within 3 working days and a substantive response will be issued, where possible, within 20 working days. If they cannot provide a response within that timeline, they state they will keep you informed of progress and the reasons for delay. They further state they will judge all complaints on merits and facts in a respectful and impartial manner.

If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome of the Quality Service Unit, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman which examines complaints from those who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain public bodies, and in your particular situation, the Department of Agriculture.

Finally, the Department of Agriculture is covered by State Indemnity in respect of its officers carrying out their official duties at any location. They can deal with property damage claims on behalf of the State and you could lodge a claim with them for compensation for the damage to your animal.

As with all complaints procedures, you would have to give a detailed account of what happened. You would also have to look to see how you could show that the actions of the inspector caused your bullock to break its leg.

Did you point out to the inspector at the time that you were not happy with his actions? Did he note this in his report? Did you make a comment about it when you saw his preliminary report?

You say your cattle would not be used to strangers- have they previously gone “crazy in the shed” if other strangers approached them? What market value was the bullock? It would be prudent to address all of these questions when lodging any complaint.

 

Deirdre Flynn is from a farming background and practices as a Solicitor at Deirdre Flynn Solicitors, Cathedral View, Ardfert, Co. Kerry Tel: 066 7115695   Email: info@deirdreflynnsolicitors.ie

The information in this article is intended as a general guide only. While every care is taken to ensure accuracy of information provided, Deirdre Flynn does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions howsoever arising. You should seek legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances at the earliest possible time.


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