"Hogan's simplification statements must be followed by real action" - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that whilst the announced simplification of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) measures is a step in the right direction, they are still inadequate and has called on Commissioner Hogan to follow his statements with real action.
Speaking after Commissioner Hogan announced a series of simplification measures this week Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament's Agriculture & Rural Development Committee, said:
"In Ireland in 2014, 10,000 farmers were hit with penalties such that 3.3m was deducted from Single Farm Payments and 1.1 from Disadvantage Area Scheme payments. This is money that was taken out of farm family's pockets and out of local economies. In many cases farmers were unaware that they had done anything wrong.
"It is welcome then that some simplification measures have been announced for the first half of 2016 that primarily relate to penalty systems in place.
"New measures to reduce penalties include preliminary checks on aid applications and the "yellow card" system for first offenders. These are welcome and will hopefully cut the administrative penalty in half when the over-declaration is minor.
"But, reducing administrative burdens for farmers is crucial in any changes to the current legislation as unintentional mistakes often lead to penalties and reductions in income support.
"Simplification proposals also promise a reduction of inspections, which, if they transpire, will be a welcome development as the current system was causing undue stress and fear on farmers. Under the new system, farmers should only be subject to an inspection after having received a "yellow-card" as a first time offender. The real test of these measures will be how the Department of Agriculture officials interpret and implement the new system. I, for one, will be monitoring this closely.
"I have been calling for an introduction of simplification measures for farmers consistently and whilst certain aspects of the Commissioners proposals are to be welcomed, they do not go far enough in terms of a better and fair deal for our farmers. If Commissioner Hogan is to deliver on his promises, he needs to deliver real simplification measures not just on a technical level but with regards policy also."