Farm Ireland

Saturday 23 February 2019

Yellow card system sought for farmers

Calls have been made for a full review of the Department’s inspection process.
Calls have been made for a full review of the Department’s inspection process.

Eoghan MacConnell

Irish Family Farm Rights Group Managing Director Tommy Gunning has called for a yellow card system for farmers in schemes. 

Speaking at a suckler farming income crisis meeting in Tullamore, Co Offaly on Friday, Mr Gunning said inspections were getting ridiculous. “We want to bring in a yellow card,” he told the group.

He said this would mean farmers would get a chance to put things in order before being penalised. 

“In any walk of life you will get a time to put things right but yet they don’t do it in farming,” said Mr Gunning.   

He also called for more transparency in relation to schemes so that farmers can know where the money is going.  “As far as I can see by the time the Department is paid, Teagasc is paid, the poor farmer that is producing it all is getting sweet feck all out of it,” he remarked. 

Mr Gunning made the comments while outlining a series of measures the Irish Family Farm Rights Group would like to see introduced. Among the measures was the removal of the recording of cattle movements.  

He said the recording was brought in as a disease control measure but it is now influencing the price of cattle because people don’t want to bid on an animal that has moved three times. Mr Gunning explained that cattle moved more than four times cannot get quality assurance. The IFRG has a started a petition to have the movements removed.  

He also took issue with calendar farming and said, in particular, slurry spreading is best managed by the farmer. 

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“The slurry definitely, that should be left in the hands of the farmer himself. He has a valuable asset in his slurry. There’s no way if he sees there’s going to be tons of rain for the next week he’s not going to go out and put it out and see it washed into a drain. Farmers aren’t that stupid,” he stated. 

He believes the rule makers aren’t necessarily aware of the practicalities of farming. “You have lads making these rules that have never stood on a farm in their life and they don’t know what they are talking about,” he said. 

Mr Gunning believes Ireland needs farm gate legislation in order to protect its farmers. Such legislation would ensure farmers get the cost of production plus a profit margin and he said this would be index linked.  “There is no other business were you are forced to sell below the cost of production, that has to stop,” he remarked. Irish farmers are no longer doing so well out of EU, he stated. The subsidies have dropped, the costs have gone up, so we are getting shagged at every side,” said Mr Gunning.   

Echoing Mr Gunning’s call for more transparency in how schemes are managed, Limerick farmer David Murphy spoke of a €25 million scheme for 4,000 farmers on designated ground. He said of the 4,000 farmers, around 1,100 have gotten onto the scheme. "Most of that money is going to this body, that body and the other,” he said. Mr Murphy said “we have been left with very little out of that €25million and some of us didn’t even get into it.” He believes a lot of the money that should be going to farmers is being spent on administration. 

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