9 AUGUST 2016
ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has said that he is very alarmed at recent reports that a trusted visitor to a farm carrying out agricultural services has allegedly supplied insider information to criminal gangs intent on farm robberies.
“This news prompted a major discussion at last week’s ICSA national executive meeting, where the garda vetting of farm visitors was considered. Accordingly, ICSA is to look further into the practicalities of this. In any event, farmers will be very concerned and it also should set off alarm bells for all businesses and Government agencies who regularly visit farms.
It also has implications for unannounced visits by Department inspectors and, at the very minimum, suggests a need for reviewing the protocols around such visits. Farmers certainly need to be informed at the earliest date possible of such visits and which personnel were involved.
Agricultural service providers are certainly going to have to be very careful with their recruitment processes in order to ensure that staff being sent to farms are reputable. It should be said however, that one case does not reflect a trend and in the vast majority of cases, visitors to farms are beyond reproach whether drawing silage or scanning cows.
For the majority of farmers the worst that has happened has been the inexperienced driver knocking a pier but there is no doubt that the rural crime epidemic is a major worry for farmers.”
Mr Sherlock congratulated the gardai in Laois for their recent arrests of individuals on suspicion of criminal activity. “It is reassuring to know that the gardai are taking a very proactive approach and I am calling on the Minister for Justice to ensure that they have sufficient resources to continue to pursue criminals relentlessly.”
ICSA, in association with Waterford Institute of Technology, is currently conducting a study on rural crime on Irish farms. Farmers are urged to log on to www.icsaireland.ie to partake in the study, which involves a fully confidential survey of their experience with farm crime in recent years.