Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath, Robert Troy, has called on Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to carry out an immediate review of the current inspections regime.
New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that 33 per cent of farmers inspected for cross compliance last year were hit with penalties. This is an increase of more than 40 per cent compared to 2010 figures. There has also been a large fall-off in the number of farmers who were clear of any cross compliance breaches. In 2010, 71 per cent of farmers were clear compared with just 39 per cent in 2016.
Deputy Troy commented: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the rise in the number and complexity of CAP schemes, more and more penalties are being applied to farmers. Farmers are doing everything within their power to comply with increasingly complex and bureaucratic requirements to draw down payments, and many now view the inspections regime as unfair, and claim that it is resulting in disproportionate penalties.
“I don’t believe that penalties should be placed on farmers retrospectively unless intentional fraud is suspected. Where genuine errors occur or where simple non-compliance issues arise, farmers should be given a warning and an opportunity to address the error without the threat of penalties. A long overdue review of the Agriculture Appeals Office has been announced by the Government. It is vital that these latest statistics are discussed with all farmer stakeholders with a view to ensure there is a fair inspection and appeals system in place”.