Pictured above are (L-R): Bryan Barry, Acting General Secretary; Jer Bergin, IFA National Chairman; Tom Tynan, Cabinet of EU Commissioner Phil Hogan; Pierre Bascou, Head of Direct Payments DG Agri; Gerry Gunning, IFA Rural Development Executive; and, Liam MacHale, IFA Director of European Affairs.
IFA this week met with the EU Commission in Brussels to discuss the new rules on simplification of the CAP and how they can be implemented in 2016.
IFA National Chairman, Jer Bergin got a commitment from the Commission that the new rules currently on the table by Commissioner Phil Hogan will be mandatory this year. These will involve a reduction in sanctions where there is an overclaim of land, a yellow card system and a preliminary check of BPS applications.
Jer Bergin said that the change to sanctions where the overclaim is greater than 3% is a welcome development as the previous regime was not fair or proportionate. In future, where the overclaim is greater than 3% and less than 10% the administrative sanction will be 1.5 times the percentage overclaim.
In addition as part of the yellow card system, a 50% reduction in the amount of the administrative penalty will apply. Under this yellow card system a farmer will be checked in the following year and if everything is in order, there will be no further sanctions. This check can be mainly by remote sensing.
In the case of farmers where the overclaim is greater than 10%, the 1.5 times the percentage overclaim will apply. Previously where the overclaim was over 20% farmers lost all of their payment. This was unfair and totally unacceptable.
It was also confirmed to IFA by the Commission that all farmers will start with a clean sheet in 2016 with regard to new regime on tolerances.
In relation to preliminary checks, Jer Bergin said this will allow farmers to amend their applications for a period of 35 days without sanction. This will lead to fewer errors and sanctions, particularly as more farmers make their applications online.
IFA pointed out to the Commission that moves on simplification must be followed up by further relaxations on the cross compliance regulations.
Jer Bergin also discussed with the Commission the difficulties farmers are facing with the greening requirements under the CAP, which applied for the first time in 2015.