Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 15

Memorandum submitted by the Royal Netherlands Embassy (H18)

INTRODUCTION

  Under Article 1 of Regulation (EEC) No 3508/92 each Member State is required to set up an integrated administration and control system, (hereinafter referred to as the "integrated system") for the benefit of direct Community aid schemes in the crop and livestock sectors. This document explains how the integrated system is implemented in the Netherlands, which organisations are involved, how the administrative processing of applications is organised and the procedure for objections and appeals. Finally there is a brief discussion of identified problems.

SCHEMES TO WHICH THE INTEGRATED SYSTEM APPLIES

  The integrated system in the Netherlands applies to the following aid schemes:

    —  Community aid scheme for arable crops in implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1251/1999 and the associated implementing regulations;

    —  Community aid scheme for livestock premium arrangements concerning the special premium for producers of male bovine animals, the suckler cow premium and the slaughter premium for adult bovine animals and calves pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 1254/1999 together with premium for ewes pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 2467/98 and the associated implementing regulations; and

    —  Community aid scheme for flax and hemp made in implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 1308/70.

  In addition the integrated system is used for cross-checking in respect of other regulations in the crop sector such as the seed aid scheme, the dried fodder aid scheme and the potato starch aid scheme.

PAYING AGENCIES CONCERNED

  The schemes referred to above, with the exception of the slaughter premium for calves, the seed aid scheme, the flax and hemp aid scheme and the potato starch aid scheme, are implemented by LASER, an accredited paying agency which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries. LASER has its central office in The Hague and has five regional offices. LASER's regional office in Groningen is responsible for the development and management of the Community aid scheme for producers of arable crops and the identification of parcels and scale of production system.

  LASER's regional office in Deventer is responsible for the development and management of the Community aid scheme for livestock.

  The slaughter premium for calves is administered by the Commodity Board for Livestock and Meat (PVV). A commodity board is a public body which is jointly charged with statutory duties, including the implementation of certain aid schemes under the common agricultural policy. The PVV is an also accredited paying agency as referred to in Council Regulation (EC) No 1663/95. The seed aid scheme, the flax and hemp aid scheme, the dried fodder aid scheme and the potato starch aid scheme are also jointly administered by another public body, the Commodity Board for Arable Products, which is also an accredited paying agency.

THE IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM FOR AGRICULTURAL PARCELS (PIPO SYSTEM)

  The identification system for agricultural parcels ("PIPO" system) has been in operation in the Netherlands since 1 January 1996. The PIPO system uses the topographical maps, scale 1:10,000, issued by the Dutch Topographical Service.

  The most important feature of this system is that all topographical parcels are identified by a unique ten figure number and recorded in an automated data file with the associated surface area of the parcel. The PIPO system is based on topographical parcels; these are parcels whose borders are determined by natural dividing lines, roads, waterways, or railways. A topographical parcel can consist of a several agricultural parcels. An agricultural parcel is a continuous area of land on which a single crop is raised by a single farmer. The applicant indicates on the application form what crops will be grown on a topographical parcel, citing the unique parcel numbers and giving the surface area of each agricultural parcel. The system then compares the area given by the applicant with the area recorded in the system for each topographical parcel. The PIPO system is also used to check for duplicate applications for a single agricultural parcel.

  Agricultural parcels are considered "dubious" if the stated surface area exceeds the calculated surface area. In the first instance, dubious parcels are checked against the records. If necessary, inspectors from the General Inspection Service (AID) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries will then carry out on-the-spot checks on these dubious parcels.

  Since the start of the 2000 marketing year, LASER has been using a specially developed farm map to improve the quality of the applications submitted. The applicant's holding is centred and indicated in colour on the map.

  Applicants receive a summary of the application details from the previous marketing year along with the application form. Extra farm maps can be ordered from LASER over the Internet. Consideration is now being given to ways of integrating this system into a Geographical Information System (GIS), in anticipation of the obligatory introduction of the GIS by 1 January 2005.

CENTRAL DATABASE FOR THE IDENTIFICATION AND REGISTRATION OF ANIMALS

  In the Netherlands the Commodity Board for Livestock and Meat is responsible for the implementation of regulations on the identification and registration of animals. The Animal Health Service manages the

I & R database on behalf of the Commodity Board for Livestock and Meat.

  The Dutch cattle database has been fully operational since 1 October 1998.

  The voice response system commonly used in the Netherlands is designed to enable the computer (voice) to directly confirm details entered by the livestock farmer. The system also responds immediately to errors made in the entry of data (for example wrong farm number, wrong tag number or ID code of female parent, etc). Farmers are now receiving quarterly print-outs from the central I & R register showing livestock numbers and any changes made. The farmer can also obtain a printed statement of the livestock numbers at any time via the voice response system. The system can even provide information on livestock numbers dating back three years.

  However, the overall system is not without its problems. The Dutch authorities are constantly monitoring the way in which livestock farmers report to the central I & R register on changes in their livestock numbers. Recently much emphasis has been placed on improving information services to promote good reporting discipline among livestock farmers. Emphasis is also placed on checks: in addition to physical checks whereby 30 percent of the farms are visited annually, cross checks are also performed on data entered into the central

I & R database.

  There is provision in the new slaughter premium scheme for adult bovine animals and calves for additional national sanctions where obligations to report to the central I & R database are not met in good time. This provision is contained in Article 11 of Regulation (EC) no 3887/92. The aim of the supplementary sanction regime is to give livestock farmers an extra incentive to fulfil their I & R reporting obligations accurately.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSING OF APPLICATIONS AND CONTROLS

Livestock Sector

  The following remarks apply to the processing of applications for male bovine animals (granting of premiums for live animals) and suckler cows.

  Producers who applied for a premium in the previous marketing year are selected from the LASER database. An application form is sent out to these producers by post; others can obtain application forms from the LASER offices.

  On receipt of the application it is checked for the necessary enclosures, correctness and completeness. If the application is incomplete the applicant is granted a period of 14 days under the Dutch General Administrative Law Act to complete it. Next, computer checks are run on the name and holding number of the producer, the minimum number of animals and duplicate applications. The completion period of 14 days is also monitored: after this time the application is re-assessed from scratch.

  LASER uses the data from the central I & R database when assessing applications. For this purpose the producer gives permission to the Animal Health Service to provide LASER and the AID with information from the central I & R database relating to his application.

  This information is provided in the form of a national administrative document which LASER can use to check the identification number of the producer, and the age and sex of the animals concerned. Since 1998, LASER has been using a certified copy of the livestock passport of the animals concerned in processing applications for imported animals.

  If the application meets the conditions for awarding a premium the applicant receives a letter from LASER indicating the retention period and the number of animals involved.

  Applicants who do not met the conditions for awarding a premium are refused. The applicant can object to this refusal (see under "Objectives and Appeals").

  Physical checks take place during the retention. Holdings to be visited are selected as follows. A random sample of 300 applications per scheme is selected in accordance with the MUS method. The other applications are selected on the basis of risk analysis.

  The physical checks are carried out by the AID. Prior to a site visit the AID inspectors obtain a print-out of the data on the holding concerned form the I & R database.

  With regard to the slaughter scheme for adult bovine animals and calves, the Netherlands has recourse to the option referred to in Article 35 (2) of Regulation (EC) No 2342/1999 whereby information of the slaughter of animals forwarded by the slaughterhouses to the I & R database shall be regarded as applications for slaughter premiums on behalf of the producers. Thus there is no separate file of submitted applications in the slaughter premium scheme. The producer's notice of participation together with the notification of slaughter by the slaughterhouse to the central I & R database is regarded as an application.

  The information is then recorded at LASER in a separate bovine information system (BIS) at farm level and animal level. A statement of the relevant slaughter data for each producer can be produced at any time. All producers receive such a statement every three months. The producer is required to ensure that the data is correct and complete. Where there are inaccuracies in the animal data the producer himself must take the necessary action by notifying the Animal Health Service or the slaughterhouse. Changes to the central I & R database can only be made through the Animal Health Service and not through LASER. Such data is subsequently added to the statement of (slaughter) data by means of the BIS.

  There is a separate application procedure for premiums for the slaughter of bovine animals in a slaughterhouse in another EU Member State and for the export of bovine animals to third countries. The producer applies to LASER in the case of adult bovine animals, and to the PVV in the case of calves. In assessing these applications, LASER uses export data from the PVV, which is responsible for the livestock and meat export restitution scheme. For this purpose the producer gives permission for this information to be used by LASER in connection with his notification of participation and his application.

  On-the-spot checks are performed by LASER's external inspection service. In slaughterhouses the checks relate particularly to the registration of data, with attention to the slaughter data, the number of animals slaughtered per day, the correspondence between identification numbers and slaughter numbers and the way in which ear tag data is used. Checks are also carried out on the slaughter line.

  In the case of exports, a correspondence check is carried out to determine whether the identity of the animals corresponds to the information in the documentation. These checks are carried out by the National Inspection Service for Livestock and Meat of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries while the animals are being loaded. Checks on departure from the customs territory are carried out by the customs officials of the Member State concerned.

  The following remarks apply to the processing of applications for the ewe premium. Producers who applied for a ewe premium in the previous marketing year are selected from the LASER database. An application form is sent out to these producers by post; others can obtain application forms from the LASER offices. On receipt of the application it is checked for the necessary enclosures, correctness and completeness. The same completion procedure applies to these applications as to those described above for livestock premium schemes.

  The same computer checks are also performed on the name and holding number of the producer, the minimum number of animals and duplicate applications.

  If the application meets the conditions for awarding a premium the applicant receives a letter from LASER indicating the retention period and the number of animals involved.

  Applicants who do not meet the conditions are refused. Applicants can object to refusals (see under "Objections and Appeals").

  AID inspectors carry out on-the-spot checks during the retention period. Holdings to be visited are selected as follows. A random sample of 300 applications is selected in accordance with the MUS method. The other specification are selected on the basis of risk analysis.

CROP SECTOR

  Applications are entered into the automated system. Next computer checks are performed, including checks on the completeness of the application, the use code of a parcel, the contribution code of the crop, whether the parcel area is greater or smaller than stated, calculation of the set-aside requirement and the division of holdings.

  Random physical checks are carried out entirely by remote sensing. Selected checks are then carried out in the field by the AID in response to the administrative checks and remote sensing data.

OBJECTIONS AND APPEALS

  As already mentioned, in the Netherlands the direct income schemes to which the integrated system applies are administered by LASER and PVV.

  With regard to the schemes it administers, LASER takes decisions on producers' applications on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries. Objections to these decisions can be raised with the Minister.

  The chair of the PVV decides on the applications for the slaughter premium for calves. Objections to these decisions can be raised with the Commodity Boards Objections Committee.

  Following the decisions on the objections in either case there is an option to appeal to the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBB). The CBB is an economic executive council charged with the administration of justice in administrative matters, which adjudicates in disputes between entrepreneurs and the Government. This independent committee evaluates the legitimacy of decisions (for example the proportionality of the sanction imposed). In making these evaluations the CBB can submit preliminary questions to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

  The decisions of the CBB are legally binding.

INTEGRATED SYSTEM CO -ORDINATION GROUP

  Pursuant to Article 8 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3508/92, each Member State must designate an authority responsible for co-ordinating the checks and controls provided for in the framework of the integrated system.

  In the Netherlands, requirement has been met by the creation of an integrated System Co-ordination Group. The group is responsible for implementing and monitoring the progress of the integrated system, the co-ordination of the administrative, physical and remote sensing checks and providing the European Commission with the information referred to in Article 17 of Commission Regulation No 3887/92.

  The Integrated System Co-ordination Group consists of representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries (Departments of International Affairs, Legal Affairs, Financial and Economic Affairs, General Inspection Service and the Audit Branch) and the paying agency, LASER.

PROBLEMS IN IMPLEMENTATION

  Generally speaking, the integrated system rules have become increasingly complicated in recent years.

   During the exchange of views about experiences of applying the IACS between the Integrated System Expert Group and the European Commission last June, it transpired that many member states are concerned about the complexity of the regulations.

  The Netherlands took this opportunity to point out that in its view this complexity was due to the fact that more and more aid regimes are brought into the scope of the integrated system without any attempt to link them with controls already prescribed in another community framework. Because no links are made to other regulations the scrutiny obligations continue to mount up. The Netherlands is in favour of an integrated farm control system in which the various (livestock) regulations are brought under a single control system. By way of experiment this year the Netherlands, in consultation with the European Commission, is conducting an integrated risk analysis for the selection for investigation of applications for slaughter premiums, suckler cow and steer schemes. However, it will not be possible to fully integrate the controls until the sectoral schemes are harmonised. The Netherlands therefore advocates harmonisation of these regulations.

  The Netherlands also considers that the substitution of the I & R database for the system of individual applications for aid schemes in the livestock sector could greatly simplify the process.

20 November 2000


 
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