Following a high-level meeting with senior officials in DG Agri in Brussels this week, IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin said the EU Commission has made it very clear to IFA that the pre–checking of BPS applications in 2016 can happen, provided the facility is made available by the Department of Agriculture. He said the EU Commission said there is no reason why the Department would not facilitate Irish farmers in this way in 2016.
Jer Bergin said the EU Commission made it very clear that it is not a requirement for all farmers to submit their applications on-line for the pre-checking facility to be made available by the Member State. “By having the pre-checking facility available, it will significantly help the 2016 application process in terms of reducing errors, speeding up processing and ensuring that the payments are made on time.”
Jer Bergin said it was also confirmed that the new yellow card system for land eligibility, reduced penalties and all farmers who have had difficulties in the past starting off with a new clean slate, is available for the 2016 application.
He welcomed the approach from Commissioner Hogan on introducing real simplification measures for land eligibility issues covering pre-checking, a new yellow card system and reduced errors. He said more progress needs to be focused across the cross compliance measures.
The IFA also raised with the Commission the prospects of an increased advance of the BPS and Greening payments in 2016, given the severe farm income crisis across all of the major farming sectors.
“The EU Commission confirmed that Member States can provide assistance directly to farmers where there are technical issues such as poor broadband.”
Jer Bergin said IFA also raised the need to increase the de-minimis payment limits or limits on national payment measures to help low income farmers. In addition, IFA also discussed the need for more flexibility on greening and changes to the definition for young farmers, particularly focusing on the restrictive five-year rule.