Longford judge orders Agriculture Minister to attend court to answer questions over farming practices

A Department of Agriculture inspector has claimed there is an attitude of “don’t look, don’t find” in relation to alleged breaches of health regulations in the farming industry.

The Minister for Agriculture has been ordered to attend Longford District court to respond to queries raised by the official after a farmer was charged with possession of an illegal cattle medicine to treat ‘redwater’.

The farmer was charged with three offences arising from an incident in May 2018, when an anonymous tip off was made to the Department.

The court heard that the farmer had asked a third party to go to Enniskillen to procure five bottles of Imizol, a treatment for redwater in cattle, that is not authorised in the Republic, but is available from vets in the North.

The court also heard that there was a two-hundred-and-thirteen day withdrawal period for the drug when it is administered, but there were no records to confirm which cattle on the farm had been given the drug.

The Inspector claimed that resources to tackle farmers engaging in illegal were being reduced and there was an absence of political will at senior level to tackle alleged issues.

He claimed there was a “don’t look, don’t find” attitude and Judge Seamus Hughes said the case was of grave national importance and thanked the inspector for his honesty.

The Judge claimed that the farming industry was under attack from rogue farmers and demanded that the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, or the Head of Department will need to be in court on the next occasion to answer the issues raised by the inspector.

He said that the case was a signpost to the IFA that something is awry and the matter was adjourned until September 15th.