Farmers’ Charter Must Deliver Fair Play for Farmers

‘Charter will only be deemed a success if it delivers a fair and just inspection process for farmers which recognises that 100% perfection is not the minimum standard’

Sligo News File Online

ICSA National Beef Committee Chairman, Edmond Phelan
ICSA National Beef Committee Chairman, Edmond Phelan

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has said that the Farmers’ Charter will only be deemed a success if it delivers a fair and just inspection process for farmers which recognises that 100% perfection is not the minimum standard. It must deal with the fact that, for example, a certain level of tag loss is inevitable. “Whether the solution is called an early warning system or a yellow card system is beside the point; what is essential is that farmers do not get penalties for minor issues such as a few animals missing a tag or a minor deficiency in a farmyard on a nitrates inspection.”

Mr Phelan was referring to the Farmers’ Charter negotiations which are now at a critical juncture. “Fair play for farmers must be at the heart of this process and inspections must be based on a sense of justice and respect for farmers. The charter must cover all agents of the Department including the replacement unit which has taken over from the SIU. Farmers feel that they have had less rights than criminals and have been treated as guilty till proven innocent. Accordingly, all officers of the Department must be held accountable under the Charter.”