Elimination of unannounced inspections part of IFA’s submission on CAP simplification

Elimination of unannounced inspections form part of the IFA’s submission to European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan on Simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The IFA proposals call for real reform and simplification across the direct payments system of the CAP including the inspection and cross compliance regime.

IFA President Eddie Downey said that the administrative burden of  the current CAP on farmers, and associated bureaucracy and red tape under the direct payment system, is very complex and challenging for farmers.

He also said that the stress and fear associated with farm inspections, particularly unannounced inspections, has a negative impact on farmer welfare and is unacceptable.

“Currently farm inspections are extremely complex and bureaucratic with a full inspection similar to a forensic examination involving hundreds of questions, many of which are incomprehensible,” he said.

Eddie Downey said the IFA submission on simplification of the CAP focuses on the following key principles:

• The simplification initiative must make a real difference to, and improve the situation for, farmers, including a substantial reduction in red tape and bureaucracy.

• Dignity and rights of farmers to be fully restored under the inspection and cross-compliance regime.

• A reduction in the stress associated with inspections for farm families, with the objective of removing unannounced inspections.

• Payments across all schemes must be delivered efficiently, within agreed timelines.

• A fairer and proportionate penalty regime, involving greater tolerances, the removal of cumulative penalties, and a reduction in overall penalties on farmers must be implemented.

• Greater use of cost effective technologies to improve efficiencies, with a reduction in the administrative burden for farmers and competent authorities, and a reduction in the level of on-farm checks.

• A change in focus in the audit system away from investigation and enforcement through a penalty-driven regime is required, towards fostering compliance through continuous improvement at farm and Member State level.

Furthermore, the IFA is also calling for all no-notice inspections to be eliminated and a change so that 14 days’ advance notice will be provided for all on-farm checks.

Regarding penalties, Eddie Downey said that the IFA wants the new ‘yellow-card’ system be introduced in Ireland, whereby farmers are given a fair opportunity to correct unintentional non-compliance.

The IFA are also calling for a reform of the current CAP penalty regime, that there must be a fairer and more practical approach to penalties. The IFA has also made a submission on simplification on Greening.