Following a recent press statement by the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) on the issue of ‘active farmer’ the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) explained once again how the ‘active farmer’ negotiations proceeded.
A DARD spokesperson said: “It is unfortunate that some feel that confusion remains about how the ‘active farmer’ negotiations proceeded. The UFU has been very closely involved and informed during every step of the negotiations that led to the current position on active farmers.
“The Department’s opening position on the issue was set out in our submission to the Commission of April 2012. This led to detailed negotiations and numerous contacts with the Commission, the Presidency, MEPs and the UK Government in pursuit of this issue. The Commission was wholly resistant to any link to past production which proved decisive in the June 2013 agreement.
“The Union was part of the follow up meeting with the Agriculture Commissioner last September which led ultimately to the definition we now have. That definition has been progressed through the negotiation of the Direct Payments Delegated Act. Throughout all of this, the Union was supportive of the position adopted by the Department.”
The spokesperson continued: “As always, the Department stands ready to receive constructive suggestions from the Union on any additional clarity of definition it now wants and which can be added to the very substantial body of material already on the DARD website, which can be found at:
‘’The complexities imposed by the legislation agreed to reform the CAP are considerable. We have provided a large amount of guidance on the DARD website and have responded to many hundreds of queries. And we will continue to do so.’’
The spokesperson added: “The relationship between landowners and farmers is an important one. Much has been invested in these relationships over the years and we want these relationships to continue for the mutual benefit of both parties. There is a need for farmers and landowners to have open and honest discussion about how to move forward with arrangements that suit both parties. Landowners who put sham arrangements in place could well fall foul of the ‘Artificiality’ clause.
“ Negotiation is never easy but there is time over the next twelve months before the new CAP regime begins for agreements to be reached that suits both farmers and landowners.’’