IFA's would-be president responds to Wexford concerns
IFA presidential candidate Joe Healy has responded to concerns raised in a Wexford canvass by calling on the association to establish a dedicated section to support, advise and mentor farmers through on-farm inspections.
The Galway dairy farmer pointed out that farm inspections were being raised on the election trail as frequently as commodity prices and farm incomes.
'It surfaced as a serious cause of concern among IFA members throughout the southeast,' Mr Healy explained.
'Farmers in Wexford and Wicklow, like those around the country, view inspections as a real imposition on the farming community. A farmer who is inspected feels extremely vulnerable, isolated and alone. Some farmers believe their privacy has been violated and they are certainly at a disadvantage because of their lack of knowledge of the inspection process,' Mr Healy said.
'The IFA has the personnel to re-balance matters in farmers' favour. We need to support farmers through this difficult process by providing a service where farmers who are struggling with a current or upcoming inspection have trained personnel which they can talk to before, during or after the event,' said Mr Healy.
Mr Healy said any new IFA inspection support service should: Help farmers deal with farm inspection paperwork; Offer group briefing sessions on inspections procedures; Enable farmers to speak directly to an expert before/during/after an inspection to allay their fears and facilitate farmer-to-farmer discussion forums on inspections.
'Ninety-nine per cent of the issues that arise during an inspection can be easily fixed, but through fear and lack of knowledge farmers don't know this. A more coordinated approach by the IFA to the process would eliminate isolation and vulnerably, and put power back in the hands of the farmer and not the inspector,' said Mr Healy, who is standing for election as the IFA's new president.