CAP simplification may not become a reality until 2017 – ICSA

The CAP simplification principles agreed by EU Council of Agriculture Ministers earlier this week may not become legal reality in Ireland until 2017, according to ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch.

“We welcome the commitment by the Commissioner and Agriculture Ministers to simplify the CAP and reduce the amount of bureaucracy confronting farmers,” he said.

“But by the time the matter is officially agreed by the Commission, Agriculture Ministers, the European Parliament and then enshrined in legislation, it could be 2017 before the new measures take effect at national level.

“I would be delighted to think that all relevant matters could be resolved within a much shorter period of time. But given the slow rate of progress that accompanies matters of this nature in Brussels, this is unlikely to be the case.”

Punch said that the devil will be in the detail, where the implementation of the new simplification measures is concerned.

“The Commission has proposed that the level of inspections should be reduced from 5% of farms to 1%.

“And, at first reading, this all seems to be fine. But there is already a significant grey area in terms of the Department of Agriculture’s current inspection procedures.

“In the first instance, we already know that more than 5% of farms are inspected annually where land eligibility is concerned. For the calendar year of 2015 a total of 6,560 such farm inspections will be carried out in the Republic of Ireland.

“This is in excess of the 6,000 threshold that relates to Single Payment applications only. However, there are an additional 15,000 land owners who do not apply for Single Payment but who register for the various rural development schemes. They must be factored in as well.

“In addition, Brussels must confirm if the new inspection thresholds will relate to land eligibility only or will other criteria, such as animal identification, be included?”