ALICE IN FARMERLAND.
The Council of Ministers of the European Union has clearly recognised that farmers in receipt of huge subsidies have important responsibilities towards the protection of the environment, animal health and welfare, and public health.( Keeping trespassers alive,when they stray on to the newly idle pastureland;keeping nitrates and slurry out of the drinking water,etc.)
The Mid-Term CAP Reform Agreement requires farmers to observe ‘certain conditions’(as mentioned) in these areas in return for payments under the Single Payment Scheme.
This is known as ‘Cross Compliance’. With the revisions to the Common Agricultural Policy as part of Agenda 2000, Good Farming Practice is to be introduced and with it, the linkage to direct payments,under the new scheme..
Since its inception ,many Irish farmers have been found to be non-compliant with the requirements of Good Farming Practice.(read;-,attacking hill walkers,and pouring slurry and nitrates into the rivers)).
Under the new Single Payment Scheme however, respect for basic standards for the environment, public, animal and plant health and animal welfare and for good agricultural and environmental condition is now incorporated as a condition of the scheme.(Yeah,do we get to walk on your land too.?)
The general underlying principle is that there should not be a decrease in total area under PERMANENT pasture,and birds nests should not be disturbed,in the fields and hedgerows of Ireland.(Grow no more cabbage,or corn, or spuds,or sugar beet please,as we can import them much cheaper from Holland[cabbage,vegetables] America,[corn,flour,] and Israel[spuds,strawberries] and other places too numerous too mention)
Good news that,after all the money is disbursed, it is a requirement to carry out standard checks,to determine ‘eligibility’.
However the bad news is that the Department of Agriculture is the ‘Deputy Sheriff’,which does the checking,and they are not too well qualified for the job.
When,one may enquire-in it’s long history of supervision of farmers activities,it’s failure to detect famous,and numerous historic scams and abuses;whether in the Mountains of Mourne or the factories of Larry Goodman;-when did the innocuous civil servants in the complaisant Department of Agriculture ever monitor or supervise anything , efficiently or effectively.?
Why is it one always has the feeling that while the Inspectors are sleeping,or adding up their own mileage expenses allowance forms-the agile farmers are running rings around them.?
They are however, now deputized agents of the E.E.C.once more,and are required to confirm that
(1) the farming lands declared as permanent pasture have not, in fact, been ploughed and used for the growing of arable crops;
(2)Verify that the eligible hectares in the application form does not contain land used for fruit and vegetable production or potatoes in the year of application;
(3)Confirm that lands declared as eligible hectares have not been afforested or used for the production of other permanent crops ‘in the year of application.’?( So what about the year before or the year after application.!)
The rate of on-farm inspection required for this magnificent farmers bonanza fund called ‘Cross Compliance’ is a ridiculous 1%.!
Only one in a hundred farmers will be called upon(‘Good morning sir,I am the Inspector’..) to confirm their conforming with the rules,of eligibility.
Pray tell how many villains will this level of inspection catch.!
It gets better.
However, if a rare non-compliance farmer is actually unearthed, and his peccadillos are judged(by the Department) to be due to negligence, then,the penalty is 3% of the aid- for the year in question.!
However, on examination of the control report,and taking account of the permanence, extent or severity of the non-compliance the 3% may be reduced to 1% or increased to 5%.!
Wonderful.! What busy Brussels Bureaucrats dream up such a nightmare penal code for bold farmers. Maybe the I.F.A. helped them draw it up,in their busy Brussels lobby office. Maybe the Irish Judiciary will introduce this ingenious new Code of Punishment for Dublin Jackeen Dole abusers,and petty criminals of all kinds.? It sounds like a lawyers ‘ Dream Legislation’. How will our astute civil servants get to grips with this complicated legislation. After all, how long is a piece of string.?
It costs 80,000 Euros a year to keep common city criminals inside our civil service supervised penal institutions. Don’t ordinary everyday criminals wish their punishment was so complicated-and unenforceable.It would probably save the taxpayer a fortune.!
Will our politician/farmer fraudsters ever see the inside of the sheltered retreat of Shelton Abbey Correctional Institute,and repose within its leafy confines in the picturesque Wicklow Hills.?
Farmer Pee Flynn,up in Mayo, has his forestry payments and grants;plus his new single payment subsidy, not to mention his Dail Eireann, AND Euro-commissioner pension as well,as whatever else he has trousered during his term in high office;- He will never see the inside of a prison cell.!
Safer by far to be a farmer…better still to be a farmer and a crooked politician combined.!
‘Poor’farmers alreadyparticipating in any of the following lucrative subsidies/schemes/handouts, will still have to comply with Good Farming Practice (GFP),of course;
· Disadvantaged Area Compensatory Allowance Scheme
· Installation Aid Scheme
· On-Farm Investment Schemes
· Rural Environmental Protection Scheme
· Scheme of Early Retirement from Farming (Let your son get in on the act,-while the going is good-its easier than working for a living)
There may also be established a new ‘Farm Advisory System’ to assist the farmer in identifying changes required to the physical farm or farm management practices in view of his/her legal obligations to the Statutory Management Requirements and the obligation to maintain the land in ‘good agricultural and environmental condition.’(no nitrates and pollutants in the rivers please).
Finally;’The Farm Advisory System must be operational by January 1st 2007 at the latest,but… Participation by farmers will be voluntary.!
The Council is to decide before 31 December 2010,(Some of us will be dead by then) on the basis of a Commission report, whether to make the advisory system compulsory for certain categories of farmers.
(i.e.Rogue farmers,recidivists,systematic environment abusers,illegal rubbish dump owners, and polluters.? Who are fined 3% of their E.E.C.pensions.?)
And by the way , have you as a farmer, planted forests on bogland,during the previous decades,and illegally claimed E.E.C.grants for it.?
If the answer is yes, you can now count all of this acreage, when summing up your ‘pastureland’area for the new entitlements,which will be additional to the existing forestry grants you are already in receipt of.
If you don’t understand all this,I am afraid neither do I.! It sounds like a win win win situation.
Boy,this fatten the farmer farce gets better,and better every year.
Don’t you city folk sometimes wish you had a (lobby) office in Brussels,or a few acres of bogland in lovely Leitrim,after all, you suckers are paying the fat cat ‘Euro- Commissioners wages.!
But the farmers are running the show.
In January 2005 it was reported that the E.E.C.is considering a threefold increase in tariffs on bananas from outside the E.U.,to protect Canary Island farmer/producers.
Bananas, tomatoes,and even early potatoes were economically important export crops here in the past,but no longer.
Tomato producers have diversified into market gardening to supply the booming tourist industry which-alongside generous inflows of regional funds -has brought Irish style prosperity to this autonomous region of Spain.
Morocco will supply much of Europe,s early tomatoes,during the coming years,and hopefully alleviate both the 50% unemployment rate, and the flow of young illegals crossing the Mediterranean in small boats weekly-many of whom pay with their lives for their desperate initiative.
As in Ireland, France,etc the selfish influence of powerful local banana farming lobby interests are clearly predominant here,and Madrid are backing them to the hilt,,just as Bertie Ahern , in Ireland, receives his own instructions,by special courier from the I.F.A. H.Q. in Bluebell.!
There is as little poverty among our local Canarian farmers,as among Irish farmers, today.
Our own mr Peter Sutherland,now director general of the Geneva based W.T.O. has recently issued a report which offers a rousing defense of multilateral trade liberalization.
If Europe,s farmers continue to dictate policy in Brussels -as seems likely-he must know that
meaningful reforms are light years away.