A midlands farmer says his family was “hugely stressed” after learning that a Department official, who had inspected their farm, subsequently contracted Covid-19.
The farmer, aged over 65, claimed that the inspector had “worn no protective gear” when conducting the inspection before Christmas.
Speaking to the Farming Independent, the farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The Department called and said they ‘had to come out’. I replied: ‘Do you really have to? Then I took the obvious farmer approach that ‘we better play ball or we’ll be victimised; we have to bow to them.”
The purpose of the visit was to see all cattle and cards. “I said I’d show him where the cattle are, but I wasn’t going to travel with him. I was being cautious. I was probably stupid in that I handed him all my cards to take into his car, he scanned every one of them.”
Shortly after the inspection, the farmer was alerted that he was ‘a close contact’. “I’d kept my contacts to an minimum so I knew exactly who I’d dealt with. I went for the test, it was negative. But I found out after that the inspector who had visited my farm had contracted Covid. He’d worn no protective equipment on my farm.
“We were so lucky not to contract it. To be fair, I presume the inspector didn’t know he had it, but I would expect much higher standards from a Department official. I didn’t make a complaint because the thinking among farmers is ‘if you make noise, you’ll get more inspections’.
“I’ve nothing against casual inspections, I endeavour to stick to the rules and I’m willing to be inspected on any day at reasonable notice to ensure I’m living within the bounds of quality-assured farming.
“But I do have a problem with unnecessary inspections right now. There was huge stress in my house after I got the alert.”