NEWS

Penalties for non-compliance and late submission of applications will include withholding a percentage of the following year’s subsidy

The new Common Agricultural Policy of the EU contains an entirely new section, which is unprecedented both for Greece’s farmers and for officials in the country’s Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food who are grappling to understand and apply the new rules within the country. The main innovation involves penalties that will be imposed if the «multiple compliance» regulations are not followed. This clause applies to those farmers whose subsidies are partly linked to their production. Farmers will have to follow certain guidelines concerning the way they grow their crops – rules that are aimed primarily at protecting the environment. Adherence to these rules will be strictly monitored by agriculturalists from the prefectures’ agricultural directorates. Non-compliance with the guidelines will bring about heavy cuts in subsidies and may even, in the case of repeated offenses, lead to complete exclusion from the system. The Athens Agricultural University report gives an example of a cotton farmer who has a total of 9.9 hectares of farmland, of which 7.5 hectares are devoted to cotton. He is entitled to a subsidy of around 12,250 euros, but will also be fined about 350 euros because he has grown his crop on a slope in such a way that will lead to soil erosion. Multiple compliance will go into force in 2006, but it will be implemented leniently, says the ministry, while agriculturalists employed by the prefectures will travel around monitoring a sample of farms. Every year a sample of 1 percent of the country’s farms must be monitored, which corresponds to some 10,000 farms. EU monitoring This domestic process will be followed by monitoring by European Union authorities. Non-compliance will lead to the imposition of fines, which will be charged to the state budget. Penalties will also be exacted for delays in subsidy applications. Subsidies will be reduced by 1 percent for each day past the deadline, similar to penalties that are levied on taxpayers for making late tax declarations. Applications submitted more than 25 days after the deadline will not be accepted. Further penalties will be imposed when other conditions are breached. This will happen, for example, if cotton is sown on land that has not been approved or in an area that exceeds the maximum 370,000 hectares permitted by the new CAP, or if a different crop is actually planted from the one declared by the farmer in question. In each case, income will be reduced according to the dynamic differential set by the new CAP. This entails withholding 5 percent of the total subsidies which a farm has received by 2007. The authors of the report calculate that in all, 19 percent of farmers will suffer an decrease in income. Fewer jobs The consequences of the new program will be considerable for farms that specialize in tobacco and cotton production, while it will have rather less impact on those who specialize in cultivating olive trees. In particular, cotton growers are expected to see their incomes fall by 7.4 percent, and tobacco growers by 3.5 percent. Olive growers will suffer a drop of only an estimated 1.3 percent. The Agricultural Development and Food Ministry predicts that all these changes will lead to an overall decrease in the number of people employed in the agricultural sector.