Increasing levels of bureaucracy threatens the family farm model says INHFA

Following recent demands from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) requiring the on-line registration of all farmers on the newly established National Fertiliser Database the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have expressed major concern around the ever increasing levels of bureaucracy.

Speaking on this National Vice-President John Joe Fitzgerald detailed how “most farmers are sick and tired of increasing levels of red tape that demands more and more time from them while delivering nothing in terms of a financial return.”

For years we have, he continued “seen supports paid through CAP Programmes become more and more complicated amid a tsunami of never ending regulations that aims to punish farmers who are trying their best.”

Beyond CAP, there are, he added, “additional EU and national regulations around habitat and environmental protection that have major financial implications for farmers while delivering little in terms of environmental benefit.”

In accepting that rules and regulations are required in agriculture the same as any other industry, Fitzgerald stressed how “the regulations must be proportionate and not put farmers at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, when we assess the demands made through EU and national regulation and compare it to what farmers in other parts of the world comply with then there is a major disadvantage” added the INHFA leader.

In our beef and sheep sectors there is, he continued “increase access being provided to EU markets for farm products from non EU countries. Product that doesn’t have to comply with the onerous regulation that Irish farmers do.”

With regard to our sheep sector Fitzgerald outlined how electronic tagging was introduced here in 2019 and sold on the basis that it would help market access. “But today, New Zealand and Australian lamb are getting access to the same EU markets that Irish farmers are selling into. Critically though, they are getting this access without electronic tags while Irish farmers have to endure this additional cost.”

In relation to suckler and beef farmers Fitzgerald detailed how there is a growing push to get more farmers Bord Bia certified on the basis that it will help in the delivery of better markets. However, with beef prices in free-fall many farmers are, he stated “questioning the merits and benefits of such a scheme and the onerous requirements associated with becoming and maintaining Bord Bia membership. For many more there is also a growing level of anger around the Bord Bia requirement relating to the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme.”

In concluding Fitzgerald outlined the need for Government and EU policy to take account of the make-up of Irish farms. These are, he stated “primarily family run with limited resources and every time we update and increase regulation we increase their workload and stress levels. On this basis it is time for the Minister, his staff and EU officials to reconsider how they operate and recognise the enormous and unfair burden their policies are having on farmers and their families.”