New CAP simplification measures ’welcome relief for farmers’ says MEP

Alyn Smith MEP has welcomed new simplification measures to reduce the burden of cross compliance penalties in the CAP.

The new proposals, announced on Monday by Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, take aim at the confusing and disproportionate administrative penalty system for unintentional mistakes made via over-declaration of eligible land. Not only will the penalties be significantly reduced to a maximum 1.5 times the area over-declared, but also the ‘yellow card’ system for first offenders will see the penalty for minor overdeclarations cut in half.

Hogan has also announced a full investigation into the impact of greening rules, based around the ongoing public consultation, with a package of changes to secondary legislation to come this summer, ready for enactment in claim year 2017.

Alyn, Scotland’s only representative of the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:

“Removing the risk of disproportionate penalties for accidental errors frees Scotland’s farmers up to get on with the important business of running their farms.

“Commissioner Hogan promised us when he took up the post that lightening the administrative burdens of the CAP would be his main priority. While there are still major changes I would like to see in the near future, no one can deny that he has made an impressive start: creating more flexibility in Ecological Focus Areas, reducing the burden of inspections, allowing common sense amendments to IACS forms, and now applying some leeway for administrative penalties.

“It is a source of quite justifiable frustration for farmers that relatively minor and unintentional mistakes can lead to quite serious reductions in payment. These proposals mark an important step towards eliminating that frustration, and are welcome relief for farmers.

“We intend to bring forward a number of proposals to Hogan and the Commission on continuing the task of simplifying the CAP. Audit rules and methods must be aligned among the different Scottish and European auditing agencies to ensure that farmers know what they have to do to satisfy inspectors, and not feel like the goalposts are constantly shifting. More flexibility must be provided to allow a greater number of equivalence schemes to count towards greening obligations, so that we can achieve our environmental goals in a way that best suits Scottish circumstances. And global trade rules must not be used as an excuse to prevent common sense minimum activity rules from being put in place to prevent slipper farmers from receiving payment.”

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