Variations of up to 400% in the value of penalty applied by the Department of Agriculture following farm inspections across the country highlight the urgent need to overhaul the whole system, claims Denis Naughten TD.
“Figures revealed in data obtained from the Department of Agriculture shows that there is a massive variation in the average farm penalty by County. In Waterford farmers received an average penalty of €1,867 on their single farm payment inspection. However, in Kildare the penalty was just €468/farmer”.
“Such is the scale of the variation, it cannot all be accounted for by farm size. Under the disadvantaged area scheme, farmers in Waterford received an average penalty of €125/farm but farmers in Kerry faced a penalty twice as big at €259/farm”.
“It is statistics like these which reinforce the need for a radical reform of the whole system,” Mr Naughten stated.
“We currently have a totally unacceptable situation where the county in which you farm has as much to do with the level of penalties you may face as the actual implementation of the Department of Agriculture rules,” stated Deputy Naughten.
“These variations are nothing short of ludicrous and make a farce of the farm inspection system.
“If this was the Leaving Certificate would we accept a situation where the pass rate in maths or English varied by 400% based on what county you lived in? As such it should not be acceptable within the agricultural inspection system either”.
“In some cases these inspections are the difference between a farmer staying in business or being forced to sell part of his farm, and all this on the basis of where he lives. It is just not good enough.
“I am calling for an independent review of the whole inspection regime in the country, to ensure fairness and transparency in the system. It is only with such an overhaul that we can have any confidence that farmers are being treated fairly,” concluded Denis Naughten.
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