Department must 'step up' on quality verification of inputs

Department must 'step up' on quality verification of inputs

The Deputy President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the need to provide farmers with greater confidence regarding the quality of farm inputs has come into sharp focus during the present price slump. He said the onus is on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine which needs to ensure that clear and more accurate information on key farm inputs is made available for farmers.

With feed and fertiliser accounting for over 35% of 2015 inputs costs at €1,351m and €565m respectively, Mr McCormack said that the quality of these inputs is hugely important and has a significant impact on farm income.

“It’s surely vital that an independent third party is not only monitoring the quality of these inputs, but also publishing the results of any testing carried out. Margins are simply too tight at farm level for any inconsistencies and farmers need – and are entitled to get - confidence that they are getting what they paid for,” continued Mr McCormack.

He said the UFL or energy level of all feedstuffs should now be compulsorily published on all feed products being sold so that farmers can make better informed decisions when purchasing.

With the management of livestock being notably complex, farmers need as much information as possible and the making the publication of UFL values of concentrate feed compulsory would certainly be a step in the right direction and provide farmers with a greater level of confidence.

In relation to fertiliser, the Deputy President said the Department can play a greater role by carrying out more testing of fertiliser and publishing the results of same so that farmer-purchasers can have confidence in the product and source of the product they’re considering buying

“In fairness, the Department is carrying out a lot of this work already and with a number of key amendments -we believe we can improve farmer confidence and give a strong signal that farmer income and the stressed margins they’re operating under are considered and taken into account by the Department.”