Ragwort growing in a field margin©FLPA/Rex

European farm leaders have called for a lenient approach to CAP rules in their first year of implementation.

Farm organisation Copa-Cogeca said it was unacceptable that farmers risked losing their entire support payment due to small errors when applying environmental greening measures.

See also: How to fill out your BP5 farm payment application

The call was made by Udo Hemmerling, chairman of Copa-Cogeca’s working party on greening and direct payments under the new CAP.

“We want to make the new CAP a success, especially as it benefits the whole of society, but more tolerance is needed in the first year,” he told the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

Further concessions were vital from the European Commission when it came to implementing the new CAP, said Mr Hemmerling.

“The greening measures are highly bureaucratic and a reduction in red tape could better help farmers achieve the desired environmental benefits,” he said.

European farm commissioner Phil Hogan has already agreed to allow EU member states to postpone the deadline for Basic Payment Scheme applications this year.

“We look forward to more solutions such as this one to give legal certainty to farmers,” Mr Hemmerling told MEPs on the agriculture committee.

Clarification was still needed on the five-year definition of permanent grassland and rules regarding ecological focus areas (EFAs) so farmers didn’t unnecessarily take land out of production.

“Greening payment reductions and sanctions must be revised too,” said Mr Hemmerling

Losing their entire greening payment because they had made a small mistake when implementing the greening rules would be a “huge penalty for farmers to bear”, he added.

“Going beyond the 30% payment cut is unacceptable in 2018,” said Mr Hemmerling.

It was also important to ensure there was a level playing field across all 28 European Union member states when it came to cross-compliance.

While the European Commission has granted approval for rural development programmes in some countries, other member states are still waiting to receive the go-ahead.