Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Treaty men have a go on inspections

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Limerick farmers have reacted angrily to figures which show that they are among the most heavily inspected farmers in the country.

Department of Agriculture figures show that Limerick Co Council instigated 120 farm nitrates inspections in 2012.

In contrast, Roscommon, which is similar in size, was subjected to just 16 inspections.

Following the publication of the data, which also highlights higher levels of cross compliance penalties in the Treaty County, Limerick ICMSA chairman Michael Lenihan said there was no drop in the standards of Limerick farming.

"Limerick has a reputation for having some of the best farmers in the country and an excellent record achieved by local farmers in national competitions down through the years," insisted Mr Lenihan.

"Limerick is criss-crossed by waterways to a far greater degree than some counties up the country and therefore is always likely to incur more inspections; the higher level of cross compliance penalties is a function and consequence of the greater number of inspections.

Put simply, it's a mathematical certainty that more inspections will trigger more penalties," he maintained.

In Donegal, Fianna Fáil Seanad spokesperson on agriculture, Brian Ó Domhnaill, expressed "grave concern" at the fact that farmers were penalised as much as 400pc more last year for cross compliance breaches by the Department compared to 2005.

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Senator Ó Domhnaill said farmers in Donegal had experienced "drastic" penalty increases, reaching €55,193 in 2012 compared to €1,722 in 2005.

"The huge penalties being imposed on farmers is extremely worrying," said Mr Ó Domhnaill.

"The 2,472 penalties issued in 2012 were for quite minor technical infringements which should not warrant any payment deductions."

Problems with manure collection and management were the most common breaches of Nitrates regulations nationally last year, accounting for 61pc of all farmers found to have broken the rules. Other Nitrates problems included structural defects in slurry storage (15pc), failure to minimise soiled water (14pc) and spreading manure during the closed period (5pc).

Irish Independent