The new yellow card CAP simplification measure is to help end some of the stress and anxiety farmers feel when completing forms, according to the European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan.

The Commissioner was speaking to journalists in Brussels recently on the measure which has been introduced for CAP fines for first-time offenders, for example, those who over declare lands for payment.

He said that to treat an honest mistake as an offence is ‘not in the spirit’ of fair play.

Furthermore, he said that the measure will enter into force this year and that the proportionate penalty regime should be put into effect immediately in Member States.

The Commissioner said that forms are being filled out at the kitchen table or at the computer and that he’s trying to make it easier for farmers with this new measure.

New Measures

The simplification package unveiled recently by Commissioner Hogan consists of three complementary elements.

First of all, preliminary checks of aid applications would allow farmers to make corrections to their aid applications during a period of up to 35 days after the final date of submission without any penalties.

Second, the system of administrative penalties for direct payments would be simplified.

Whereas the current system for the calculation of penalties is based on different categories that can result in penalties of sometime more than double than what is over-declared, the different categories will be replaced by a simple penalty, which is 1.5 times the area over-declared.

This reduced level of penalties, when approved, would apply for 2016. Small over-declarations that are up to 3% of the area declared or 2 hectares would continue to not be penalised.

Third, a ‘yellow card’ system for first offenders would be introduced. Where the over-declaration is minor (below 10% of the area determined), the administrative penalty would be cut in half.

Farmers having received a yellow card will be registered and will be subject to an on-the-spot control the following year.