IFA President Eddie Downey said the introduction of tolerances on eligible land is an important breakthrough, following a long hard battle by IFA at both national and European level. He said the clarification will be helpful to farmers in making their applications.
Eddie Downey said “It is very important Minister Coveney now pursues similar type tolerance arrangements across the entire cross compliance and inspection regime as part of the new Charter of Rights.”
The IFA President said with the new clarifications and tolerances, it is essential that farmers who have already submitted their applications are allowed to make amendments this year.
Eddie Downey said the Department of Agriculture guide issued this week states that there are two key principles in relation to the eligibility of land under the new CAP. Firstly, the land parcel must be available to the applicant and secondly the land must be agricultural and being maintained in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation. In addition, the Department points out there must be suitable access, defined external boundaries and appropriate fencing.
The IFA President said under the new tolerances the EU now provides for a pro-rata system of reduction coefficients to facilitate area reductions within parcels. It can be used to account for scattered small ineligible areas where it is not practical to measure and map them individually. He said this has been a major irritation for farmers over the last number of years, with the Department excluding small areas on maps and with resulting digitisation and payment delays. He said the new system allows for 10% ineligible within the parcel where no reduction coefficient is applied. Where the percentage ineligible within the parcel is 10 to 30%, a 20% reduction coefficient will be applied and so on.
Eddie Downey said Minister Coveney and senior management in the Department must make it very clear to inspectors that the new tolerances must be interpreted and applied in a flexible and practical way at farm level. He said the Minister must make it clear to the Department that the tight and rigid approach that caused so many problems is now redundant. Eddie Downey said IFA will be closely monitoring how this new system is implemented on the ground.
In addition, Eddie Downey said the changes to how Natura areas are accessed is long overdue, as farmers in these restricted areas were prevented from undertaking land reclamation and improvement.