Greening guidance published but Union still has serious concerns

Friday, 3 April, 2015

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said that while DARD has published its guidance on greening, serious concerns remain around some of the procedures DARD is expecting farmers to follow in order to meet the greening requirements.

UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell said: “We have met with DARD on several occasions over the past number of weeks to urge them to clarify and simplify the greening guidance. We have serious concerns around some of the procedures DARD is expecting farmers to follow in order to meet the greening requirements, in particular around what they are expecting when it comes to identifying type, size, and location of Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) on arable land. The UFU believes that DARD’s current proposal for the declaration of Ecological Focus Areas is overly complicated and it is completely unacceptable. The level of detail DARD is requesting is highly complex, time burdensome and puts farmers at an unnecessary risk of making errors on their Basic Payment Scheme application. The UFU presented a simplified option to DARD which we believe has sufficient detail to demonstrate to both DARD and the EU Commission that the minimum area of 5% Ecological Focus Area has been both located and measured for the purposes of greening. The EU Commission has already confirmed that there will be no greening penalties applied for the next two years and that reductions will only be applied where greening requirements, including EFAs, are not satisfied. The UFU is the process of the raising our concerns directly with the EU Commission to get further clarity on the matter.

“We have also argued that a greater level of resource must be made available to support the estimated 500 farmers who will have to comply with greening. DARD has outlined that a video will be uploaded to their website to help farmers with their greening application, however the UFU has argued that this is not sufficient and that members expect one to one assistance to be made available to assist farmers with this complex matter.”