IFA Deputy President Tim O Leary has welcomed the new proposals from Commissioner Hogan on simplification allowing for preventive preliminary cross checks on area aid applications, simplification of the system of administrative penalties and a yellow card system for first offenders with reduced penalties.
Tim O Leary said this work by Commissioner Hogan on simplification is positive and going in the right direction. He said it will reduce penalties and the unnecessary stress burden on farmers. Simplification and reducing penalties was one of the very first issues IFA raised with Phil Hogan when he became EU Agriculture Commissioner
The IFA Deputy President said under the preliminary checks of aid applications the Department of Agriculture will be able to identify problems with applications so that, during a period of up to 35 days after the final date of submission, farmers will be allowed to make corrections to their aid applications without any penalties. He said it is very important that the Department of Agriculture provides this service to farmers this year as it would undoubtedly reduce errors and penalties.
Commissioner Hogan has also announced that he will introduce a simplified system of administrative penalties for 2016 for direct payment schemes. He said the current system calculates penalties, which can result in fines of more than double that which is over declared. This will be replaced with a simple penalty of 1.5 times the area over declared. Small over-declarations that are up to 3% of the area declared or 2 hectares will not be penalised.
Tim O Leary said Commissioner Hogan has also announced a yellow card system for first offenders, where the over declaration is minor (below 10% of the area declared) with a reduced penalty of 50%. The Commissioner pointed out these farmers will be subject to an on the spot inspection the following year.