Farmer-friendly agri workshops needed

MEP Marian Harkin has called for the introduction of farmer friendly workshops to explain how the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP ) will affect them. “Instead of overloading our farmers with documentation, inspections, and fines it would be more productive if our department of agriculture held information workshops where farmers could get personalised information on how the new CAP will affect them,” she said.

Ms Harkin belives that the reform of the CAP is incredibly complicated. “Even the current CAP is so complex that most farmers seek assistance filling their entitlement forms, they are also largely unsure what inspectors are looking for when they call!”

The MEP went on to say that farmers need to be informed of what the new CAP will require and how to meet those requirements - simple criteria check lists ahead of inspections and workshops to explain the changes in the system would be very welcome.

The new CAP will introduce measures such as the young farmers’ 25 per cent top-up payment and the liberalisation of the sugar and milk markets. However it will also mean an increase in environmental requirements such as the linking of 30 per cent of farmers’ direct payments to compliance with the greening criteria, such as crop diversification and maintaining permanent grassland.

“Through my amendments to the CAP I tried to make the greening criteria practical and easy to implement for struggling farmers. However farmers will still have to make certain changes and they need to know what those changes are,” she said.

“I’ve written to Minister Coveney asking that he implement a serious of workshops across the country to clearly explain what the new CAP will mean to Irish farmers. We need to work together to ensure that the new CAP requirements are met in the easiest way possible so that our agri industry continues to thrive and farmer involvement is the only way to do so,” she added.

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