Commenting on the alternative ‘Yellow Card’ proposal put forward by the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine at last nights' Farmers’ Charter meeting, Pat McCormack, Deputy President of ICMSA, said that, as it stands,the proposal is simply not acceptable and would lead to potentially higher penalties for the farmers in question while also increasing their possibility of re-inspection. In addition, the proposal will do nothing for those farmers suffering a financial penalty of between 1% – 5% on their payment.
Under the Department's alternative proposal, Mr. McCormack observed that farmers who avoid a financial penalty under the tolerance system would automatically be put into a category where they will be at a higher risk of future inspection. In addition, should an inspection occur and the issue is discovered to have been not addressed, the penalty would be three times the level applicable under the existing system of dealing with tolerance cases.
“Such a system is not an improvement on the current system and is likely to mean more penalties on farmers as well as a higher risk of re-inspection. For this system to be acceptable ICMSA will require amendments including the removal of the clause that penalties will be multiplied by three and, secondly, that such farmers must not be included in a higher risk category for inspection”, said Mr McCormack.
In relation to notice of inspection, Mr. McCormack said that while some progress had been made on this matter, the Department will have to ensure that all farmers subject to a no-notice inspection get the same opportunity to postpone the notice elements of the inspection – something not available under the current proposal.
“We acknowledged that progress was made on a number of issues at last nights' meeting but there are a number of outstanding issues that need to be addressed including the Yellow Card system, Inspection notice and tolerances”, said the ICMSA Deputy President.
Ends 29 May 2015.
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Deputy President, ICMSA.
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office