Farmers are set to be subjected to less on-the-spot farm inspections under a package of CAP simplification initiatives announced by the Commission.

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, welcomed the proposals which were presented to EU Agriculture Ministers at a Council meeting in Brussels today (Monday).

He said that while the details of the new provisions remain to be clarified the Commissioner indicated a planned reduction in the minimum rate of on-the-spot inspections from 5% to 1%, in certain circumstances, and increased flexibility in the procedures for conducting inspections under the integrated administration and control systems (IACS).

The Minister also welcomed the increased flexibility proposed in the approval and amendment process for Rural Development Programmes (RDP).

Speaking at the meeting, Minister Coveney said he long advocated a more proportional and risk-based approach to controls and I’m sure farmers will welcome the simplification of the inspection regime.

“This is a very significant pro-farmer practical measure that will be strongly welcomed in Ireland.”

In relation to the increased flexibility on the RDP Minister Coveney said he welcomed this announcement and had been calling on the Commission to simplify the implementation of the CAP and this announcement regarding the RDP will allow Member States such as Ireland amend their Programmes to target specific measures as conditions we operate in are constantly changing.

Last year almost 40% of farmers were hit with a penalty or sanction following cross compliance inspections.

Some 1,368 cross compliance inspections were carried out by Department of Agriculture representatives last year. Of those inspections some 528 were found to have breaches which incurred monetary penalties or sanctions.