CAP Simplification Cuts Inspections & Greening

Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan 2014 © European Union 2014 – European Parliament cc 2.0

Updated 22.08SMT 17/11/2015

Farmers will have far fewer on-the-spot inspections than they currently have under new simplification plans announced by EU Agri Commissioner Phil Hogan.

“It will be possible, for certain schemes, to reduce the on–the-spot-checks from 5 per cent to only 1 per cent of the sample size. This measure will significantly relieve the burden on farmers and national administrations alike” the Commissioner said at an Agrafish Council of Ministers meeting on Monday.

This reduction to just 20% the current number of inspections, was accompanied by a raft of other changes and suggestions for future simplifications.

Increased flexibility in “the procedures for conducting inspections under the integrated administration and control systems (IACS)” were also announced, Agriland reported.

These include preliminary checks – where paperwork can be resubmitted without penalty for 35 days;  increasing the “efficiency of the selection of samples – particularly by carrying out a range of different samples during the course of a single on-the-spot-check”;  and yet more modification of greening.

The Commissioner wants to “provide farmers with further possibilities to modify their declaration regarding the use of agricultural parcels for the purpose of greening. This is a practical proposal which will have a positive impact on farmers who may need to adapt their cultivation plan during the growing season.”

While “most of the changes will be applicable as from Claim Year 2016, some of them will be applicable retroactively for 2015” according to Commissioner Hogan.

In a press briefing later on with the Commissioner however, Farmers’ Weekly report him as suggesting that any revised package would become applicable in the 2017 claim year.

Is this massive reduction in the number of inspections, and concurrently, this move over to a more risk-based assessment justified by the data? How are farmers’ currently performing when they are inspected?

According to Ireland’s Agriland “Last year almost 40% of farmers were hit with a penalty or sanction following cross compliance inspections.”

Some 1,368 cross compliance inspections were carried out by Department of Agriculture representatives last year. Of those inspections some 528 were found to have breaches which incurred monetary penalties or sanctions.”

The solution to a 40% failure rate then, is a reduction by 4/5 in the number of inspections. 2016 should, as if by magic, see a much smaller number of farmers recorded as non-compliant. This in turn will no doubt lead to much back slapping about how EU farmers are the best in the world at compliance, about how the system works, and how we need even more simplification.

Some efficiencies certainly make sense. The idea of one visit covering more than one inspection task – as also suggested by the Commissioner – could be a good one, with the proper training for inspectors.

But its worth remembering that this process is happening alongside cuts on inspections imposed by Departments of Agriculture and their equivalents in many EU countries.

Because if there are ever fewer rules protecting public goods like water or biodiversity, and hardy any inspections anyway, who will ever get caught breaking them?


ARC2020 on CAP simplification (March 2015) (June 2015)

The Commissioner’s speaking notes are available at this link: Council briefing – Simplification_FINAL

Oliver Moore
About Oliver Moore 189 Articles
DR. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activitĂ© professionnelle. Il peut nĂ©anmoins admirer par la fenĂȘtre de son bureau les mĂ©sanges charbonniĂšres et les corbeaux perchĂ©s au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cƓur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisĂ©s, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant Ă  la communautĂ©. Les jours oĂč il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sĂšches et les jardins familiaux.  Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant Ă©galement des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »).  Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne Ă©galement des cours sur le Master en coopĂ©ratives, agroalimentaire et dĂ©veloppement durable Ă  l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large. Il consacre la majoritĂ© de son temps de travail Ă  l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date Ă  laquelle l’Irlande a assurĂ© la prĂ©sidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est lĂ  qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grĂące Ă  sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. AprĂšs six mois, il est nommĂ© rĂ©dacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des mĂ©dias sociaux, aide Ă  dĂ©finir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois mĂȘme rĂ©dige un article pour le site web.  À l’époque oĂč on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, oĂč il a aidĂ© des ONG irlandaises de commerce Ă©quitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – Ă  raconter leur histoire.  Il se peut que ces jours-lĂ  reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de prĂ©fĂ©rer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. AprĂšs tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilitĂ©s de bĂ©nĂ©volat dans la communautĂ© dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.