IFA demand decoupling rule change

The regulations on cross compliance, inspections and penalties under the new single farm payment system must be dramatically reduced and the excessive bureaucracy and red tape that strangled farmers under the premium system abolished, the IFA demanded yesterday.

John Dillon, president, said the IFA has made a submission to the Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission outlining proposals where inspections under the decoupling system from 2005 can be dramatically reduced.

It also seeks notice to be provided for all inspections and a tolerance or warning system introduced which will greatly reduce or eliminate penalties.

With full decoupling he said the IFA is demanding that the number of inspections are minimised. On-farm inspections of land for area aid should be reduced to less than 1%, with the remaining inspection requirement conducted by means of remote sensing or GIS technology.

Mr Dillon said farmers must get a minimum of 48 hours notice for inspections. As land is the primary target under decoupling, there was no need for on-the-spot inspections.

On penalties under the single farm payment, he said provision must be made for the fact that 100% compliance is not possible in practical farm conditions for a range of issues such as tagging and identification of animals.

Mr Dillon said Farm Minister Joe Walsh must secure flexibility in the cross compliance regulation to allow States introduce a warning type system or a penalty points system, which is seen to be fair and reasonable.

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