At a meeting of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee yesterday Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy raised concerns over the pressures that farm inspections are having on farmers with Commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

Speaking after the meeting Carthy stated: “I was pleased to get an opportunity to raise directly with the Agriculture Commissioner the main concern that has been relayed to my office by farmers in recent times. I particularly sited the impact that farm inspections are having on the mental wellbeing of some farmers, in terms of the pressures that they’re under, particularly when unannounced inspections arise.

“The general view would be that the inspection regime has worsened over the past few years.

“Everybody accepts the need for inspections; everybody accepts the need to ensure that the food that is produced on our farms is of a high quality.

“But, there is also general acceptance that the regime needs to be transparent for consumers but it also fair on farmers?

“The European Commission needs to maintain both the confidence and trust of consumers and farmers. I intend to work actively with the commission and the Irish government to ensure that the right balance is struck.

“The Commission needs to acknowledge that in many cases in countries like Ireland a farm is not simply a business but is in fact a family home.”