Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Talks between farmers and Department ongoing after protest

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The impasse between the Department of Agriculture and farmers in North Tipperary remains, despite a recent meeting between the two.

Senior inspectorate from the Department of Agriculture have engaged in talks with a deputation from Tipperary North IFA on the farm inspection issues which led to the sit in at the Department Offices at Nenagh last month, but the impasse on the core issues of farmer concerns remains to be resolved after nearly three hours of discussion.

It is understood that the Department of Agriculture was represented at the talks by senior officials at regional and national level and the IFA delegation included Munster Chairman, John Coughlan.

Following the meeting, Tipperary IFA Chairman, Tim Cullinane confirmed that there had been a frank discussion on the concerns of farmers in the area, and it was agreed that a further meeting will be convened later this week.

“There has been huge support from farmers in the county for the action which we have taken to get a solution as to why Tipperary has a higher rate of inspection and heavier penalties being applied than in any other county, and we have also received many calls of support from farmers in other counties since the protest”, he said.

“We are hopeful of getting a solution to the problem, but we cannot allow what has been taking place to continue, and we will decide on what to do following the next meeting”, he added.

He said that it was totally unacceptable that inspectors were insisting on going ahead with inspections, in one case there the farmer’s mother had died earlier that day, and another where there was a confirmation celebration in the family and an inspector taking over the family home where the reception had been arranged.

The farmers are protesting that penalties are being applied in 53pc of inspections in the county compared to a national level of 39pc and the average penalty applied was €1,300, compared to €750 nationally, excluding any issues of land elegibility. 

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In one year, according to figures provided through a Dail question, farmers in the area had paid €1.28m in penalties, not including any issue of land elegibility.

“I don’t accept that the farmers in Tipperary are worse than any other part of the country or that they should be carrying penalties that are one third higher," he said.

“We are not going to stand for the number of inspections or penalties which we are getting and we are looking for an explanation for that.

"Neither can we have an inspector going around a farm for three or four days before anyone even knew he was there. 

"That is not the way that inspections should be carried out and we are not going to stand for a continuation of the present practices which are not acceptable."

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