Some 28,000 farmers could be exempt from CAP inspections and payment penalties under a new proposal from the European Commission.

The Brussels plan to cut red tape around farmer schemes would see all farmers below 10ha exempt from CAP inspections and payment penalties.

Irish Farmers Journal analysis shows that the majority of farmers who would benefit from the move are beef and sheep farmers.

Large numbers of farmers in counties Mayo, Galway, Donegal and Cork would be exempt from on-farm inspections, with as many as one in every four farmers in these counties released from the CAP’s inspection regime and the threat of scheme payment cuts.

However, the Commission has warned that these farmers would still have to abide by cross-compliance rules.

The number of on-the-ground inspections for all other farmers is to be cut in half by making better use of satellite checks.

These farmers will still have a 1% chance of facing an inspection, but fewer of these checks would require an on-farm inspector visit under the proposal.

The inspection cut is one of a number of CAP rule changes that could come into effect as soon as early April.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told the Irish Farmers Journal that these flexibilities are “intended to be practical responses to the variability of farming across member states with differing agricultural conditions and systems”.

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Plans to exempt 28,000 farmers from inspections