The Deputy President of ICMSA has said that 79 page document circulated to over 130,000 farmers in recent weeks outlining the terms and conditions of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)/Greening shows conclusively the bewildering complexity that is the current regime for farmers and the ongoing simplification agenda being pursued by Commissioner Hogan must address this matter.
“For many farmers, the BPS/Greening payment represents 100 per cent of their annual income and delays or penalties have a very serious impact on their livelihood with some individuals still awaiting payment of their 2017 entitlement. The very fact that it takes the Department 79 pages to set out the terms and conditions around the legal aspects of the regime is proof-positive that the bureauracy around this system is simply way over-the-top and hopelessly impractical. We accept the need for regulation and oversight but it is quite clear that there are way too many conditions attached to this payment and there are specific problems recurring and causing problems year after year. The simplification agenda being implemented at EU level must focus on resolving these recurring problems”, said Pat McCormack.
“At our most recent meeting with Commissioner Hogan, ICMSA put forward a number of proposals in relation to land eligibility, administrative penalties and tolerances that would certainly simplify the regime for farmers, reduce unnecessary penalties and speed up payments. For example, the exclusion of farm roadways from eligible land makes no sense as roadways are essential part of good farming practice and they should be regarded as necessary farm infrastructure and thus be eligible for payment. Our point is that if these obvious and logical changes were accepted and introduced then the whole regime would become much more understandable in a way that would have to result in a speedier processing of payments. Stayingwithin this area of system-reform aimed at simplification and ease-of-understanding, we note that the administrative penalties associated with the Nitrate regulations account for over 40% of the total Cross Compliance penalties – in the same way as we see with the BPS/Greening Terms & Conditions, ICMSA believes that this regime can be reformed in a way that reduces the penalties while meeting fully the requirements of the regulations”, he continued.
The ICMSA Deputy President noted that the Commissioner was told that farmers welcomed his simplification agenda but they needed to see and experience tangible benefits from this drive and the first target of the simplification agenda must be those recurring problems that year after year cause such frustration and delays.