IFA cries foul over 'penal' inspection regime

A CAMPAIGN of farm inspections being driven by the Department of Agriculture is penalising farmers, according to the IFA which is calling on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to carry out "a full review of the inspection and penalty regime across all the schemes in his Department and for a new charter of rights to protect farmers".

IFA President John Bryan said farmers are incensed that the Department of Agriculture has increased penalties and hardship significantly on farm families over the last two years through the inspection system.

The Dept of Agriculture would argue that the farm inspection system is an obligation Ireland must meet as an EU member state and failure to do so would expose the country to the risk of very severe penalties. The strict regime of farm inspections also plays an important part in demonstrating to international markets that Irish food produce is of the highest possible quality - notwithstanding the major blip that occurred because of the horse burger scandal.

The IFA sees things differently, however, and paints the inspection regime as a system of penalising hard-pressed farmers. "It appears from the figures on penalties that there is serious pressure being applied in the Department from the top down to impose more and more penalties," said Mr Bryan.