Smith Hails Parliament CAP Vote
The report, written by English Conservative Richard Ashworth, was successfully amended by Smith to provide for a three year amnesty from cross compliance penalties for sheep EID, and for a thorough review of the regulation. It also calls for a drastic simplification of the CAP to reduce financial and administrative burdens on farmers: these include a greater use of impact assessments; reducing follow up checks for minor infringements; and adopting a more proportionate and lighter approach for controls, audits and financial penalties.
"EID cross-compliance penalties are coming down the track at us and with the technology as yet relatively untested, it is very good news that we have the full Parliamentary backing for my stance on a three year amnesty for all penalties.
"I wrote to the Agriculture Commissioner only last week to request a meeting to discuss the implications of sheep EID on Single Farm Payments, and it will be all the better that we now have the support of the Parliament when it comes to this meeting. The Commission must face the prospects that the legislation that is now in place will not work as they had hoped - it will require some road-testing and bedding-in - and there must be some acceptance by them that penalties must be proportionate to the infringement. Farmers should not be punished for problems totally outwith their control.
"Likewise, we are going to need a pretty strong audit of how sheep EID is actually working on the ground in the very near future, so we can build the evidence to adjust the regulation as problems emerge. The fact that both the Agriculture Committee and the full session of the Parliament voted for a demand that this regulation be made voluntary is welcome, although unfortunately too late to have a real effect.
"We're embarking on the process of full CAP reform, which will take us to 2013, and making the CAP simpler and less burdensome has to be at the centre of any reform. Today's Report will provide valuable ammunition for this cause.
"This was a good bit of work today, and I hope it is taken forward by the Commission."
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