Training for spraying ‘unnecessary, costly and irritating’ says ICMSA

The Chairperson of ICMSA’s Farm Services and Environment Committee, Patrick Rohan has accused state agencies of waging what he called ‘a relentless campaign’ to introduce pointless and over- the-top regulation in areas of farming where it is not required.

He said the consequences of this is that farmers being forced to pay substantial fees to attend mandatory training courses that are simply unnecessary.

The ICMSA man cited the drive to register all farmers who operate a tractor boom sprayer as part of the Sustainable Use Directive is yet another example of excessive regulation at a time when the EU Agriculture Commissioner is talking about simplification.

In order to register, he said, farmers will have to complete a recognised (FETAC Level 5) pesticide user course with costs for such courses running from €275 to close to €1,000.

Though the register does not close till next November 26, ICMSA was already being contacted by farmers who rejected completely the idea that any course was required for a straightforward farming task and who resented the idea that they should be charged substantial sums for doing a course whose necessity they doubted in the first place

“Obviously, ICMSA would mostly be talking about dairy farmers who wouldn’t be heavy users of pesticides and who now find themselves having to undergo maybe a three-day course to ‘qualify’ to operate a boom sprayer that they might need to use on only a few occasions during the year for dock or other weed spraying and for reseeding grassland.

“With an estimate of 40,000 farmers having to complete this course – and if we assume a charge of €275 – the total cost to the farming community is €11m at a time when farm incomes across the board are under pressure. The other obvious questions that requires clarification is does this have Cross Compliance implications and what happened the drive for simplification we heard so much about?” the Chairperson of ICMSA Farm Services and Environment Committee said.

“This shows an alarming disconnect with reality. Facing into 2015 and with several huge challenges already apparent, it’s not very reassuring to see yet another bill of nearly €300 just being lumped onto farmers and we would really like some signal that this relentless push to introduce over-the-top regulations and excessive charging for courses showing compliance with these newly-invented regulations is going to end.”