The charity Farm Crisis Network has called for changes in the farm inspection process to make them less stressful for farmers.

FCN has published new research involving over 60 farms in Wales who had undergone at least one inspection last year. One of the farmers interviewed had been inspected 17 times.

The survey, released at the Royal Welsh Show, showed that farm inspections cause considerable stain on farmers and their families, particularly ahead of a visit.

The inspections also consume large amounts of time and labour on farms where people are already overworked and on low incomes.

In a report, 25 Regulations Per Acre, the charity said that farmers were yet to see the results of pledges to reduce the regulatory burden on farmers.

It said that clarity on the level and cause of penalties could contribute to a lessening of anxiety. Encouragement rather than punishment would be a more effective tool when dealing with the industry.

FCN has also called for grant support for the development of livestock handling facilities on farms because handling stock is so often required during inspections.

Jill Gibson, FCN coordinator in West Wales, said: “The length, frequency, content and cost of inspections must be justified so that farmers can have more confidence in the system, and we welcome recent moves towards better coordination.

“We hope that his report results in greater understanding from all farm inspectors, to the mutual benefit of all concerned.” 

What farmers said:

“What really gets me is the government agencies who have no leeway to allow for genuine mistakes. But if they make a mistake that’s a different manner.”

“You are treated like criminals and have to prove that you are not.”

“The inspector came in saying ‘all farmers are fraudulent and my team never make a mistake’. He was wrong and never apologised. I’ll not let him into the yard again. 

“We try to be welcoming to inspectors but sometimes they are very officious.”