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IFA Call for reform of Agricultural Inspections

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IFA DEMANDS FULL REVIEW AND REFORM OF DEPARTMENT INSPECTIONS AND PENALTY REGIME 

The latest figures released by the Department of Agriculture on penalties for inspections on cross-compliance and land eligibility carried out in 2016 show there is an urgent need for a full review of the inspection and penalty regime, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy has said.

Richard Kennedy said IFA has called on Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed to extend the current review of the appeals system to cover inspections and penalties to secure worthwhile changes in the CAP simplification process currently under discussion at EU level.

He said it is very worrying that the Department of Agriculture figures are showing that more farmers are ending up with a financial penalty following inspection. He said the number of farmers who ended up with a penalty following cross compliance inspections in 2016 was 33%.

Richard Kennedy said the inspection and penalty system needs to be fundamentally reformed from a regime that sets out to penalise farmers to a system that helps farmers to meet the requirements.

The IFA Deputy President said there is a real need for greater tolerances and a yellow card system whereby farmers can correct unintentional errors without penalty.

On land eligibility, Richard Kennedy said the Department of Agriculture figures would indicate that the simplification and yellow card system introduced by the EU Commission is helping the process and the figures are moving in the right direction.

He said from 2104 to 2016 the number of farmers penalised reduced from 24% to 15% and the amount of penalties incurred reduced from €1.35m to €220,000. However, in the case of cross compliance the number of farmers penalised increased from 26% to 33% of those inspected. This points to real need to introduce a system where a farmer is allowed to address whatever problem exists through greater tolerances and a yellow card system.