‘Plenty of time for logical dialogue on tractor testing measures’

There is still plenty of time for logical dialogue on ‘fast’ tractor testing measures, according to the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack.

Speaking to AgriLand, he described measures that were brought in late last year and subsequently revoked as a “very knee-jerk reaction” to the issue.

He said: “There is still plenty of time there for logical dialogue; we would be hoping for a process of consultation on the matter.

There is a big difference between tractors with a 50kph or 60kph transmission used for commercial haulage and a tractor generally found on a farm.

In autumn of last year, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, signed a Statutory Instrument (SI) to enforce regulations relating to the road-worthiness testing of ‘fast’ tractors.

‘Fast’ tractors are defined as tractors that can travel in excess of 40kph. The requirement to test ‘fast’ tractors involved in commercial haulage stems from an EU directive, which comes into effect from May 20, 2018.

Following a meeting of the stakeholder group in November 2017, the minister and the department decided to roll back on the measures and to basically start from scratch – following a considerable backlash from the farming community.

Also Read: Review of proposed tractor testing measures a ‘victory for common sense’

Speaking at the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Annual General Meeting yesterday, IFA president Joe Healy was critical of the way in which the department and the minister went about introducing the measures last year.

“It was wrong; they had told us that they would consult with us. We put pressure on them to call a meeting of the stakeholders, and they did. They agreed to go back to the drawing board and revoke what they were putting in place at the time,” he said.

Meanwhile, IFA director general Damian McDonald explained that the SI previously introduced by the minister stands revoked and that very little progress has been made in recent weeks.

It stands revoked; our point was that the SI that the minister introduced and subsequently revoked went a lot further than what was required in the directive; he created new definitions of things which made no sense at all.

“So, it’s up to the minister now to come forward with his proposals and initiate a consultation process to implement it,” he concluded.