After more than two years of COVID-19-induced semi-isolation, officialdom is back paying visits to Irish farms again. Last week, I was slightly taken aback to have a completely unannounced visit from the Health and Safety Authority. I can understand them coming in without appointment if there is a reason to suspect a real danger on a premises, but I like to think that we have always been conscious of farming safely and in several inspections over the years, nothing seriously untoward has ever been brought to our attention.

Granted, our last inspection was as far back as 2017 and after a look around, the official asked that I fill out a new safety statement which was reasonable enough. However, the second requirement took me aback; to commission at my expense an inspection by a suitably qualified person of all the electrical installations and fittings on the farm. In the meantime, actual farming goes on. We had a full walk of all the crops. With present prices and threatened shortages abroad, I feel an obligation to treat the crops to maximise yield.