The main objective of the CAP reform for the period 2014 to 2020 – to simplify and cut red tape, allowing farmers to focus on farming and achieving a fair return for fair work – has not been reached warned Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP.

Speaking ahead of the second IFA Public Hearing for Euro candidates in the Midlands-North-West taking place in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath later today (01 May 2014), Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP warned that the new CAP will be a“potential bureaucratic nightmare”.

Implementation in Ireland is said to be about smart, green growth and meeting the goals of Harvest 2020.  However, according to Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, it is difficult at this point in time to see beyond the administrative hurdles created by the reform and its implementation.

Mr Gallagher said today, “The devil is in the detail and the reality of the reform is only becoming apparent now as farmers turn their minds towards its implementation. A complex new payments structure as well as greening requirements are all ahead of farmers in the coming year and with these will be increased administration, increased paperwork and increased burden.

“From speaking with farmers it is clear that there is real worry about what the implementation of this new CAP will mean for them on a day to day basis. It is difficult for those whose livelihoods depend on farming to deal with the onerous paper work, disproportionate bureaucracy and red tape, as well as their daily work of producing quality produce to the highest environmental and welfare standards.

“I also have significant concerns regarding proportionality in terms of the penalties imposed on farmers who do not comply with greening requirements.  As the policy on greening currently stands a very small error could lead to significant reduction in a farmer’s payment.

In this regard the MEP has called on the Government to ensure that it implements “an early warning procedure or yellow card system” in Ireland.

Mr Gallagher further said, “In the case of unintentional non-compliance by farmers on a minor issue, without intent, some common sense is needed in order to ensure fairness.  Allowing time for action to be taken and the mistake to be rectified means that farmers will not be penalised unjustly and the system will be proportionate to allow for the challenges facing farmers.

The Ireland Midlands-North-West Euro candidate has called on Minister Coveney to increase engagement with the farming community and to ensure that the flexibility secured in Brussels is not misused to implement a policy which will stifle the agri food sector and strangle growth in red tape.