Guide to Inspections
Your guide to inspections: what to expect, what’s involved, how to prepare and your rights
On-farm inspections are a requirement under EU regulations and farm scheme terms and conditions. The proportion of farms selected for inspection and the notice of inspection required varies by scheme – see table below.
How much notice of inspection will I get?
In the new Farmers’ Charter, it has been agreed that there will be a clear separation between unannounced and announced inspections, strengthening the position of farmers.
- The Department has agreed to conduct all no notice inspections separately unless the farmer requests otherwise.
- Cross compliance inspections involving Feed and Food Hygiene (Statutory Management Requirement 4), TSE (SMR 9) and the Welfare of Calves, Pigs and Other Animals (SMR 11 – 13) are no notice.
- Where these issues are part of a full cross compliance inspection, the Department will carry out all other cross compliance requirements at a later stage, unless the farmer requests otherwise.
- Under the Charter, the Department has agreed to provide notice for all other cross compliance and land eligibility inspections. These include animal identification, ground eligibility, Nitrates, Natura, pesticides, as well as Good Agriculture and Environmental conditions (GAEC).
Notice of Inspections Timetable
|Basic Payment||Land eligibility||Up to 14 days||5% (1% on farm, remainer by remote sensing|
|Full Cross Compliance|
|Food, Feed, Hygiene, TSE & Animal Welfare||No Notice||1%|
|Pig/Cattle/Sheep/Goat ID and Registration||Up to 48 hours||3%|
|All other SRMs & GAEC||Up to 14 days||1%|
|Greening||Greening requirements||Up to 14 days||5% (10% for EFA)|
|ANCs||Land Eligibility||Up to 14 days||5%|
|Young Farmer Scheme||Eligibility||Up to 14 days||5%|
|Beef Data and Genomics||Eligibility||Up to 14 days||5%|
|Knowlege Transfer||Eligiblity||Up to 14 days||1%|
|TAMS||Eligibiity||Up to 48 hours||5-20% pre-approval
|GLAS||Compliance with GlAS commitments||No notice||5%|
|AEOS||Compliance with AEOS requirements||No notice||5%|
What will be inspected during the inspection?
Inspections are carried out to verify that you meet scheme eligibility requirements. This includes land eligibility inspections, which check that areas declared correspond to the area you farm and to ensure no overlapping or duplicate claims. Between 65-85% of land eligibility inspections will be carried out by remote sensing.
Following a campaign by IFA at national and EU level, pro-rata tolerances on the determination of eligible land for area based schemes have been introduced.
IFA is insisting that the Department makes clear to inspectors that new tolerances must be interpreted and applied in a flexible and practical way.
Cross compliance inspections
Cross compliance inspections check that land is kept in Good Agricultural and Environment Conditions and that Statutory Management Requirements such as cattle and sheep IDs, nitrates, animal welfare, feed and food hygiene, etc. are adhered to. The inspector is required to allow certain tolerances in respect of sheep and cattle ID and registration.
Protocol for inspection
- Where farmer is not present, the inspection will not take place.
- An inspection report will be given to the farmer on the day. The farmer has the choice whether to sign this or not. The Department will provide preliminary notice on the findings to the farmer on the day of inspection.
- General principles on inspections have been agreed in the Charter on issues such as consistency and fair treatment of farmers, ongoing training for inspectors, simplified procedures for farmers, clear guidelines for inspectors where inspections are delayed, health and safety, procedure that inspections will commence at hub/main holding.
- In addition, proper procedures where issues arise which may require deferral of inspections.
- Inspections will not delay payment where there are no outstanding issues.
- Reduced pre- and post-approval checks for TAMS.
- All eligibility inspections must be conducted before payment deadlines.
- ID and registration checks will be carried out on a sample basis.
- Penning, in a secure cattle crush, will only be necessary when problems are identified.
- In the case of sheep, penning will be required for a sample of the flock.
- Specific protocols for lowland and hill sheep inspections to provide adequate notification and tolerances to take account of welfare and lambing issues, and of unique circumstances and losses in hills.
How should I prepare?
Top 5 reasons for breach of Cross Compliance, as identified by Teagasc
- AIMS problems in relation to movements, births and deaths
- Tags missing on cattle (1 or 2 tags)
- Animal passport discrepancies
- Cattle herd register not up-to-date
- Uregulated products
- Incomplete records
- No warning sign on chemical store
- Inadequate pesticide store
- Inadequate collection of livestock manure
- Inadequate management of manure storage facilities
- Structural defects in storage facilities
- Failure to minimise the creation of soiled water
- Keeping within the organic N limit – farmers between 170kg and 250kg N/ha require a derogation
- Inadequate flock register
- Sheep census returns and discrepancies
- Tagging issue
Good Agricultural & Environmental Conditions (GEAC)
- Poaching/rutting of permanent pasture
- Encroachment of invasive species
- Noxious weeds
- Stockproof boundaries
The Department of Agriculture is reminding AEOS participants that inspections are currently taking place on selected farms.
Farmers should ensure that they are in compliance with the undertakings they have made under their AEOS contracts to avoid penalties and reductions in payments.
The areas where most penalties occur are:
Additional New Hedgerow – number of plants per meter not present; length of hedgerow in original AEOS application not delivered; hedgerow not fenced nor maintained in accordance with specifications.
Species Rich Grassland – area less than claimed; less than the five positive species required; more than the 20% negative species allowed; topping not been delayed until the required date.
Traditional Hay Meadow – failure to deliver area claimed in AEOS application; cut before the 1st July; not maintained as per the AEOS specification.
Traditional Stone Wall Maintenance – failure to deliver the length in AEOS application; stone walls entered not been suitable for the action.
Laying of Hedgerow & Coppicing of Hedgerows- failure to carry out the work in line with the AEOS specification; more than the allowed 20% done each year; the hedges entered for the action not suitable.
AEOS participants are also reminded that they must submit any documents, such as record sheets, requested by an Inspector within the timeframe given, to avoid possible delays in their AEOS payment and other penalties.