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SFP Farm Inspections should flexible

30 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the Farm Inspections in respect of the 2005 Single Farm Payment due to begin in July must be flexible in their approach and should allow some time for farmers to put any problems or defects in order.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Unless these farm inspections are flexible both in the timing of their visits and in allowing time for farmers to deal with any problems they will fast become a policing arrangement as opposed to a facilitating and partnership arrangement.

"Inspectors need to be available to visit farms outside of daytime working hours in order to assist farmers who are either diversifying or involved in off-farm employment and therefore unable to facilitate inspections during 'normal' office hours. The reality is that given the low incomes and increasing dependence of farmers on off-farm income that a lack of flexibility creates greater problems for farmers, particularly farm families with smaller farms. Those whose are dependent on off-farm income must not have this affected unduly.

"Farmers have been inundated with paper work in the first half of this year while the Single Farm Payment was still being clarified. Given every farmer has been or is currently in the middle of harvesting this is another reason for flexibility." ENDS

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