July 15. 2024. 7:10

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Commission seeks to ease use of geo-tagged photos for farm checks

The bloc’s executive published a proposal lifting member states’ obligation to ensure that most common agricultural policy-related farm monitoring is carried out using geo-tagged photos by 2027.

The regulation is another move to simplify the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it has been discussed with member states and is in public consultation until 9 July.

The Commission wants to ease requirements on increasing the use of geo-tagged photos – digital photographs with data on the location – to check eligibility of subsidies for farms.

The 2022 implementing regulation on control systems stipulates member states must ensure 70% of monitoring of agricultural activities is carried out using geo-tagged photos by 2027, as part of the bloc’s aim to modernise CAP.

It is down to national administrations to set up workable mobile applications to collect data.

But, according to the proposal, geo-tagged photos should not be given priority “in comparison to other data with at least equivalent value.” The proposal drops the 70% in 2027 obligation.

“After the experience gained in the first year of the implementation of the area monitoring system and difficulties expressed by the farmers’ community, member states need more flexibility in the use and processing of geo-tagged photos,” reads the document.

Other, more traditional methods of monitoring compliance with CAP requirements to receive payments include on-farm visits by inspectors.

This is the latest proposal by the EU executive to tackle complaints against the CAP’s administrative burden, one of the causes of farmers’ protests across the bloc earlier this year.

Geo-tagged photos were supposed to make farmers’ work easier by allowing them to provide information about their activities via their smartphones, thus avoiding visits by the administration.

But some farmers and member states have expressed reservations about the system.

In a survey launched by the Commission in March, 26% of farmers said they were struggling using geo-tagged photos, describing them as time-consuming and not properly set up. Half of the participants to the survey said they did not use them at all.

Simplifying the requirements for implementing geo-tagging was also one of the demands for more flexibility put forward by EU countries in February.

Tuesday’s proposed change was anticipated by Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas during the Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) , 27 May, and presented to member states at a CAP meeting on 5 June.

Once the four-week consultation period is over, the Commission will ask EU countries for their green light at a meeting in mid-July.

Read more with Euractiv

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