Over half of all county council farm inspections last year were carried out by Cork County Council, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.

Some 900 farms were inspected in Cork last year, up on the 781 farms inspected there in 2020.

Local authorities inspected 1,731 farms in total.

Cork County Council said that 637 of the farms were the subject of targeted farm inspections, while the remaining 144 were inspected on the back of complaints.

In 2020, 27% of the farms subject to routine inspection were issued with warning letters, with a high 44% issuance rate seen in the Cork farms inspected after the receipt of a complaint.

A total of 18 Cork farmers were cross-reported to the Department of Agriculture for the consideration of penalties to farm payments in 2020.

Counties Limerick and Meath had the second and third highest number of farm inspections completed. A total of 135 and 127 inspections, respectively, were completed by these two counties’ local authorities.

Counties Clare, Longford, Sligo and Laois all reported to have inspected 10 or fewer farms in 2021, although some of these counties cited COVID-19 restrictions as impeding their inspection of farms over the year.

No such local authority farm inspections were carried out in Co Laois in 2021, with the council citing COVID-19 restrictions as the reason for this. Farmers in Cavan received 48 inspections last year.

Inadequate slurry storage capacity, slurry spreading breaches and inadequate separation of clean and dirty water in yards were the most frequently identified non-compliances on farms, local authorities’ reporting suggests.

Tipperary County Council reported the highest level of non-compliances to the Irish Farmers Journal, which it said was “generally around 50%”.

Of these farmers, 10 were said to have a “serious non-compliance” and were cross-reported to the Department.

Limerick County Council said it plans on increasing the number of farm inspections from 135 in 2021 to 220 this year, the largest such increase in inspection numbers anticipated by any local authority on last year.

Due to differences in the reporting of data to the Irish Farmers Journal, direct comparisons between all counties was not possible.

County councils in Galway, Mayo and Louth did not provide figures when queried on the inspections.