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Over 350 Galway farmers penalised in the past year

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MORE than 350 farmers from County Galway have been handed out penalties as a result of farm inspections carried out over the past year – the figures have just been released by the Department of Agriculture.

And the figures have coincided with a call for the complete overhaul of the inspection system which has revealed a variation of up to 370% in penalty rates.

It has been learned that 355 farmers were penalised in County Galway, 148 in Mayo while 115 farmers in Roscommon were punished.

Figures revealed in data obtained from the Dept. of Agriculture reveal that there is a 43% variation throughout the country in the penalty rate for nitrate inspections, a 41% variation on Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) inspections and a 24% variation rate on cattle inspections.

“It is statistics like these which reinforce the need for a radical reform of the whole system,” Deputy Denis Naughten has said.

“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.

“For example, at present there is close to a 370% better chance of having a clear nitrate inspection in County Donegal than if you farm in County Tipperary where six out of every 10 farmers inspected received a penalty,” he pointed out.

He described these variations as being nothing short of ludicrous and making a farce of the farm inspection system. “These discrepancies show the lack of consistency in inspection standards in different counties and between different inspectors,” he added.

“If this was the Leaving Certificate would we accept a situation where the pass rate in maths or English varied by 370% based on what county you lived in? As such it should not be acceptable within the agricultural inspection system either,” Deputy Naughten said.

Over the past four years there has been a 500% increase in penalties as a result of on-farm inspections with farmers losing out on €4.7 million in 2012.

The complexity of on-farm inspections has increased significantly over the last four years with farmers facing an average fine ranging from €1,160 to €3,500 depending on the detail of the inspection imposed on them.

“While Teagasc support helps to improve the profitability of farms, the reality is that a cross compliance inspection could have a far bigger impact on the profitability of a farm.

“Many more checks have been added to the cross compliance check list and it can now take up to three days to do a comprehensive on-farm inspection.

“A large number of these checks have no impact on food safety yet they can have a big impact on the potential penalty facing the farmer,” Deputy Naughten added.

Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’

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Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Green Ribbon walk in Coole

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Galway farmers who took part in the IFA’s Green Ribbon walk

AT long last, it was back to the great outdoors on Sunday last for a party of Galway farmers (pictured) who took part in the IFA’s Green Ribbon walk at Coole Park, Gort.

It was all part of the IFA’s national day out at different venues across the country to promote the concepts of good mental health and people taking care of each other.

With the easing of Covid restrictions, IFA is encouraging families and individuals to get ‘out and about’ as a way of helping to relieving the stresses of daily life.

Close on 40 people took part in the walk through the beautiful grounds of Coole Park and it is hoped to have many more on what should be an unrestricted event next year.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, said that the walk to promote awareness of mental health issues, represented a return to some form of normality as Ireland gradually came out of the pandemic.

“It was a lovely event to promote mental health and wellbeing among all ages. Already we are looking forward to next year’s walk when we hope to have a lot more people taking part,” said Anne Mitchell.

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Connacht Tribune

Bord Bia say demand is ‘on the up’ for quality assured lambs

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Market growing for quality assured Irish lamb.

WHILE 95% of Irish beef is quality assured (QA) at the point of slaughter, the comparable figure for Irish lamb is only 60%, according to the latest Farmer Newsletter from the Bord Bia Quality Assured body.

It pointed out that while QA status on Irish lamb has been important on the domestic market for some time, there has recently been growing interest from key EU customers in securing quality assured Irish lamb.

“Purchasers of Irish lamb products are increasingly looking for proof that meat is produced sustainably on farms that are certified members of an accredited quality assurance scheme.

“Such a quality assurance scheme is to be based on sustainability principles incorporating environmental, social and economic aspects,” the newsletter states.

It also stated the importance of presenting lambs for slaughter that meet customer specifications as regards weight limits and fat cover.

The current specification from the major processors is generally for R grading lambs or better with a fat score of 3 and a carcase weight of 21kg, according to Bord Bia.

They state that upper carcase weight limits can vary across the year from 20kg-23kg, with ‘no economic sense’ in keeping lambs to heavier carcase weights if they can be finished sooner.

“Killing a lamb with adequate fat cover is also essential to meet customer requirements, and in recent weeks, some reports have indicated an increase in the number of under-finished lambs being presented for slaughter due to deadweight prices coming under pressure.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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