Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Comment: Irritated farmers brace themselves for another layer of 'absurd' bureaucracy

John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Supplier Association, on his farm in Ballyvary, Co Mayo. He said farmers would be astonished to see another layer of red tape. Photo: Keith Heneghan
John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Supplier Association, on his farm in Ballyvary, Co Mayo. He said farmers would be astonished to see another layer of red tape. Photo: Keith Heneghan
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

One of the reasons given by the many farmers in the UK who voted in favour of Brexit was the rising levels of red tape and bureaucracy.

The same phrases 'red tape', 'regulation' and 'bureaucracy' immediately sprung up surrounding the concerns over the controversial Public Services Card (PSC).

Few straight answers were being given over whether farmers would have to sign up for the latest level of State requirements in order to access their payments from Brussels - funding that for many farms across the State is vital to ensure the bills are paid each year.

Already the numbers applying online have increased dramatically as all applications for EU funds under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) have to be made online through the Agfood.ie website by 2018. This year 114,000 complied and went online.

As questions grew in many sectors over the need for the new cards, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president, John Comer, said farmers would be both astonished and very irritated to learn there was even the remotest chance of yet another layer of regulation and bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers' Association said it would be seeking clarity on the issue with the Department of Agriculture.

Dairy farmers are already the most regulated and inspected sector of Irish society with any one of numerous agencies having the right to demand personal and occupational details, said Co Mayo dairy farmer Mr Comer.

He described as "absurd" the idea that farmers - who were almost literally rooted in their farms and communities - should have to use a new card to satisfy anyone that they were who they purported to be.

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"The idea that we'd even consider adding another layer of regulation and bureaucracy to Irish farming is absurd.

"The changes that actually are required would be aimed at reducing the already enormous levels of identification, form-filling and regulation that every farmer in the State has to work within and which no other sector of our society would be expected to meet," he said.

Similarly, the president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA), Patrick Kent, said he cannot fathom what would be the relevance of the card being applied to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes.

"The last thing we need is a whole new layer of red tape. EU CAP funded schemes have been in place for many years without the need for such cards," said the Wexford suckler farmer, adding they were already "notorious for bureaucracy".

He pointed out the application for the BPS scheme to receive the CAP monies has been streamlined and is now relatively straightforward in most cases.

"Either way, the addition of a Public Services Card only adds to the bureaucracy, but does nothing to ensure efficiency or accuracy," said Mr Kent.

Neither the Department of Agriculture nor farmers need a whole new level of complication added with these cards, he said.

Irish Independent





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