Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that a common sense approach is needed in relation to greening. The comments come after a meeting with European Commission officials earlier this week.
Mr Nicholson highlighted the difficulties being experienced by Northern Ireland’s farmers in relation to how the new CAP is implemented. Other topics discussed related to the Regional Reserve plus the issue of so-called ‘old’ young farmers.
Commenting Mr Nicholson said: “The complexity of the new CAP is causing a range of challenges for Northern Ireland’s farmers as it is implemented. What is being asked of farmers by DARD in terms of greening is ridiculously complicated and extremely time consuming.
“Greening was the main issue on the agenda when I met with officials from the European Commission earlier this week. As a result of that meeting I continue to have concerns that the policy is being over interpreted and over implemented by DARD.
“This is a busy time of year on farms, especially with the good weather and the way in which DARD is requiring farmers to identify and record each individual EFA feature on a field by field basis is totally unrealistic. The limited time remaining to complete and submit the Single Application Form (SAF) simply adds to this nightmare.
“Put simply farmers need to see common sense when it comes to implementing greening at farm level. In addition whilst the Minister is keen to direct farmers to the DARD website to access information she must ensure that advisors are available to assist farmers, especially those who must comply with the greening requirement, to accurately complete the new SAF – with 15 May fast approaching this must be a priority.”
Mr Nicholson concluded: “It is important that whatever flexibility is available within the regulations is used by DARD for the benefit of the industry in Northern Ireland. The new CAP is already complex and bureaucratic enough without it being gold-plated locally.
“Adding additional requirements will simply increase problems for the industry and DARD as this new package is rolled out.”