Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Michael Moynihan TD, has outlined his anger at the manner in which farm inspections are still taking place despite the terrible summer, which is resulting in farmers being penalised up to 50% of their Single Farm Payment.
Deputy Moynihan was speaking after raising the issue during a special Dáil debate yesterday, where he asked the Department of Agriculture to use a common sense approach when inspecting farms.
“Horrendous weather conditions were experienced by farmers over the summer months and there have been huge difficulties created for the farming community,” said Deputy Moynihan.
“In July, I asked that the Government examine the ground inspections process carried out by the Department and suggested it take a common sense approach to the inspections.
“However, over the past number of weeks, a number of people have come to me about satellite inspections that took place on the ground they would have submitted as part of their single farm payment application. The satellites identified a rush cover on the land and subsequently farmers were fined as much as 50% of their payment.
“This land cannot be travelled on because it is saturated with water. For the Department of Agriculture to inspect the ground and fine farmers on single farm payment or disadvantaged areas payment because the rush cover is not cut off is ridiculous.
“Inspectors are examining land to determine if rushes are topped off. Since the middle of May of this year, the land in question, which is black in nature with poor drainage, has not been in a fit state to be travelled on. The farmers who came to me would normally top this land two or three times a year. Some of the drier land has not been touched or silage harvested off it, even at this late stage.
“It beggars belief that the Department would send out inspectors to check if there is rush cover on this land. I am appalled by what is going on and I am appealing to the Minister for Agriculture and his officials to re-examine this matter and take a common sense approach, but it is nothing more than draconian at the moment.
“The Single Farm payment is the only income many farmers will have this year because of the weather. The rules don’t have to be so stringently applied here and I would urge a review of the policy to prevent more hardship for farmers.”