The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Hogan stresses need for simplification of CAP
After completing his first official visit to Scotland, EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan confirmed his top priorities were the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy and ensuring proportionality in any financial penalties incurred accidently by farmers.
With the former, he believed there was scope in existing legislation to make changes that would remove many of the worries farmers had about the CAP.
He confirmed it was too early to look at major reconstruction of the CAP and would not do so until his officials had explored all options for simplification that could be achieved more easily.
On the latter, he confirmed that he had already approached the European Court of Auditors, and while there had been little immediate satisfaction to his plea – he put this down to “differing ways of interpretation” – he insisted there were other avenues he was going to explore to reduce the worries and fear brought about by accidentally transgressing complex legislation.
His verdict on the need for simplification chimed with that of Robert Hamilton who along with Gavin Hamilton and their families run the 370-hectare mixed livestock and arable unit.
“I am glad the commissioner came out to see for himself the effects of the various policies and how essential it is to have a supportive and simplified CAP,” said Robert after taking the commis- sioner around the farm. Unlike the majority of politicians, a visit to a farm was not a strange event for the commissioner.
Brought up on a family farm in Co Kilkenny, Ireland, he talked knowledgeably with the Hamiltons about their beef, sheep and arable enterprises.
The farm visit was arranged by the NFUS and the commissioner was accompanied by union president Allan Bowie, who praised Hogan for not just “flying in and out again” but instead taking on board the concerns of farmers.
“We gave him strong messages on simplification, on active farmers, on inspections and on penalties and he took them on board. But we recognise he will have a difficult job in Brussels.”