My Department, in the context of delivering the Direct Payment Schemes, is required to carry out on-the-spot inspections on a number of farms covering such issues as eligibility, compliance with EU legislation in the areas of the environment, food safety, animal health and welfare and plant health and ensuring that the farm is maintained in good agricultural and environmental condition.
A minimum of 5% of applicants are required to be inspected under the eligibility rule. The rate of on-farm inspection required for cross-compliance, is 1% of those farmers to whom the Statutory Management Requirements or GAEC apply. However 3% of farmers must be inspected for compliance with bovine identification and registration while 3% of sheep/goat farmers must be inspected representing 5% of the flock.
Since 2010 my Department has carried out some 1,500 additional Nitrates inspections annually on behalf of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. The implementation of these inspections has already seen an amalgamation of information and expertise that has resulted in a reduction in the duplication of inspections across both Departments and more efficient use of resources.
My Department is committed to ensuring the maximum level of integration of inspections and will continue to review inspection programmes in all areas with the aim of increasing integration where this is a feasible option.