The Ulster Farmers Union has urged DARD to take a practical approach to rules on sheep cross compliance.
“No farmer welcomes inspections, but by agreeing to claim the Basic Payment each year, one of the conditions is the possibility of a cross compliance inspection. It is however important that DARD understands the practical difficulties these bring, and seeks ways to minimise the burden they can create,” said UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson.
“At a recent meeting with DARD we agreed that for most farmers June to September is the most suitable time for inspections, because it does not interfere with the breeding or lambing season.
“DARD should also be taking into account that inspections are a disruption to the day-to-day running of the farm and time is needed for farmers to prepare. We don’t believe the current 48 hours’ notice period is adequate and have suggested this should be extended to reflect the busy nature of a farm business” said Mr Ferguson.
The UFU says it also has had concerns for some time about the threshold for missing tags in cattle and sheep. “The DARD proposal of 30 per cent for single or two missing tags for sheep is as good, if not better, than our neighbouring regions.
“However on principle we question the need for any threshold. Our members question the reliability of some tags being sold, and we believe it is the responsibility of DARD, as the competent authority, to identify and prevent poor quality tags reaching the market,” said Mr Ferguson.