UFU on EU Commission Group to discuss CAP Direct Payments and Greening

Thursday, 23 October, 2014

Ulster Farmers’ Union Policy Director Wesley Aston will travel to Brussels today (Thursday 23rd October) to participate in the EU Commission’s Civil Dialogue Group along with other EU wide farmer representatives and EU Commission officials.  The purpose of the Civil Dialogue Group is to assist the European Commission on all matters relating to the Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP’s) direct payments and their implementation.

Wesley Aston said: “The EU Commission’s Civil Dialogue Groups have a vital role to play in the development, shaping and delivery of EU policy and with there being a limited number of seats on the group we have been very fortunate to have secured a place which allows us to put forward the concerns and views of NI farmers directly to the European Commission. The group is expected to cover issues such as active farmers, greening, mapping and on-the-spot-checks.  However, there are also several key issues and principles which we will be seeking to address.

“In general, we want to see a more simplified CAP for farmers, something that the new EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said he will address. We have also had long standing concerns on the proportionality of penalties being applied to farmers for failing to meet EU requirements and we also want to discuss further the possible introduction of an early warning system. For us, an early warning system would ensure that those farmers who fall foul of the rules would be handed out a written warning and given time to rectify the problem rather than being immediately fined for a first offence.”

Wesley Aston concluded: “One of the immediate areas that we want to raise is the difficulties currently being faced by NI farmers on the implementation of greening and the lack of information coming through from Europe to help farmers comply with the new ‘greening’ requirements.  We need  the European Commission to finalise the outstanding greening queries as soon as possible, ensure that they are properly communicated to farmers and hold off on applying penalises to those farmers who fail to meet the new greening requirements, at least until the information has been communicated to and understood by farmers.”