Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív has called on the Agriculture Minister to initiate a review of the farm inspections regime. He made the call following new information, which revealed an increase in the number of penalties issued to farmers following cross compliance inspections.
The figures released to Fianna Fáil show that 1 in 4 farmers in Galway, who have had a cross compliance inspection have been hit with penalties in 2016. There are has also been a large fall-off in the number of farmers who were clear of any cross compliance breaches. In 2010, 69% of farmers were clear compared with just 50% in 2016.
Deputy Ó Cuív said, “Farmers in Galway, and around the country, are working hard to ensure that they comply with the criteria needed to draw down CAP and other payments, however the amount of bureaucracy and red tape that is now involved is resulting in an increase in penalties.
“Many of these inspections have become unneccesarily complex and farmers are being unfairly penalised.
“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.
“The Government recently announced a review of the Agriculture Appeals Office, which is long overdue. I believe a similar review should be commissioned into farm inspections, particularly in light of these latest statistics. It is essential that the inspection and appeals system is fair and workable and I am calling on the Minister to urgently address this issue”.