The European Commission has unveiled additional measures to increase the cash flow of farmers and reduce administrative burden for national and regional authorities during the current COVID-19 crisis.
To increase the cash flow of farmers, the Commission has adopted higher advances of payments for farmers. This will increase the advances of direct payments (from 50% to 70%) and rural development payments (from 75% to 85%). Farmers will start receiving these advances from mid-October. As an additional flexibility, Member States will be able to pay farmers before finalising all on-the-spot checks.
A second measure aims to reduce the number of physical on-the-spot checks. EU countries have to carry out checks to ensure that eligibility conditions are met. However, in the current exceptional circumstances, it is crucial to minimise physical contact between farmers and the inspectors carrying out the checks. The overall number of checks to be carried out is reduced, for the prevailing part of the common agricultural policy (CAP) budget from 5% to 3% (for direct payments and rural development measures). The derogation also provides flexibilities in terms of timing of the checks to allow Member States the most efficient use of resources while respecting the confinement rules.
Member States will be able to use alternative sources of information to replace the traditional on-farm visits. The Commission is encouraging the use of new technologies, for example to extend the use of satellite images to check the agricultural activity on the field or geo-tagged photos to prove that investments took place. This measure will help reduce administrative burden and avoid unnecessary delays in processing aid applications to ensure that support is paid to farmers in the shortest possible timeframe.