Speaking at a protest outside the Dept of Agriculture offices in Portlaoise today, IFA President John Bryan said that farmers are incensed that the Minister would allow his Department to increase penalties and hardship on farm families.

Bryan (pictured) says that since 2009 the level of these penalties has increased 5-fold from €780,000 to €4.7m in 2012.

He has requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney demanding a full and transparent explanation on the increase in inspection penalties imposed on farmers across the direct payment schemes over the last 4 years and especially in 2012.

Bryan also said “The latest data provided by the Dept of Agriculture is far from transparent on the real level of penalties being imposed as it is presented in somewhat of a camouflaged manner through a 3 year rolling average. This appears to be nothing other than a further attempt by the Department to hide the real figures”.

He added: “The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must follow through on his commitment for a New Charter of Rights for farmers with fewer inspections, greater tolerances and reduced penalties”.