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Saturday 16 December 2017

Farmers demand end to ‘Big Brother’ approach to inspectors

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

THE ‘Big Brother’ approach to farm inspections must end with a new Charter of Farmers' Rights, the new Irish Farmers Association President has said.

Eddie Downey has called for a fundamental shift in how farmers are treated by government agencies.

"I am demanding a new Charter of Farmers' Rights that does away with the 'Big Brother' mentality and treats all farmers with respect," he said at the IFA AGM in Dublin today.

He demanded realistic notice periods  and  a reduction in the number of farm inspections, ending unnecessary duplication

Mr Downey also called for a yellow card system for minor infringements before penalties are imposed and payments on time for all farmers.

Speaking  as he took over the top job in the IFA, Mr Downey pledged to improve farm incomes by bringing more equity to the food supply chain and reducing costs.

The average farm income in 2013 was just €21,400 compared to €32,200 for average industrial earnings and €48,300 in the public sector.

Mr Downey also warned that the European Union must not sign a trade deal with the United States that would allow a flood of meat imports with lower food safety standards.

European producers and consumers will not accept food imports from countries where the use of hormones in beef, BST growth promoters in milk and beta-agonist drugs such as ragtopamine in cattle and pigs - all banned in Europe - is common practice," he said.

Mr Downey is the 14th president of the IFA which has around 80,000 members.

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