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Regulations ‘taking joy out of farming’, says O’Sullivan

June 1st, 2024 3:30 PM

Regulations ‘taking joy out of farming’, says O’Sullivan Image
Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan

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EXCESSIVE regulation means there ‘is no joy in farming anymore’. That was the message from one West Cork farmer to a local TD.

Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan called for a reduction in regulations, in a speech to the Dáil last week.

Deputy O’Sullivan detailed excessive bureaucracy and regulation burdening farmers, saying it risks the future vitality of the sector.

The Fianna Fáil TD said he visited Bandon Mart and Skibbereen Mart recently and met frustrated farmers, who expressed their exhaustion with the complexities involved in qualifying for grants and environmental schemes, alongside penalties for minor errors in documentation.

‘As one farmer said to me, there is no joy in farming anymore. If there’s no joy in farming, I don’t understand how we’re supposed to encourage or incentivise the next generation of farmers to take on this incredibly important industry,’ Deputy O’Sullivan said.

Deputy O’Sullivan pointed out specific inconsistencies in regulatory practices, such as the sudden introduction of requirements not previously communicated to farmers, like the three-star rating for bulls, which resulted in financial losses for unqualified farmers. He criticised the lack of flexibility and clarity on many issues.

‘We need to stop the max exodus we’re seeing, similar to what happened in the fishing sector. A lot of these directives are coming from the EU, but as a government, we need to do our bit to ease those regulations and to ease the burden on farmers,’ O’Sullivan said.

Deputy O’Sullivan called for a balanced approach that allows farmers to thrive without undue hardship. ‘The call for change is clear: reduce the paperwork and regulatory hurdles before Ireland loses more of its farmers.’

Meanwhile the IFA national hill-farming chair Caillin Conneely has called on the Department of Agricutlure to ensure balancing Acres payments are paid out to all farmers as soon as possible, and to let farmers know where they stand with regard parcel scoring and Non-Productive Investment (NPI) applications.

‘Farmers in co-operation areas were sold a pup with Acres. We were promised up to €10,500 each year for the five years of the scheme, but we got nothing at all in year one, and even now, haven’t a clue how much, or when we will get paid this year,’ Caillin Conneely said.

‘We are in the dark completely on how our lands scored and where we stand with our NPI applications.

‘It’s just not acceptable. Farmers can’t continually be at a loss because the Department haven’t their ducks in a row,’ he told the IFA website.

‘Applications for NPIs closed early December last year, but it’s been radio silence ever since. We are hearing it could be late summer now before any NPI approvals start to issue, to allow farmers start the work, never mind get paid for it.

‘We need a complete rethink here. I’m calling on the Minister to ensure innovative solutions are found and whatever resources necessary is provided to speed up this process, and to allow farmers start works and get paid in good time,’ Mr Conneely added.

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