2015 reference year touted as CAP agreement in sight
Reports from the crunch negotiations in Brussels suggest that 2015 is set to become the new reference year for payments.
The news will come as a bombshell to an Irish land market that is already over-heated on the back of speculation by farmers and land-owners.
The original proposal outlined by the EU Commission 18 months ago to set 2014 as a reference year caused uproar here and has helped ratchet up prices for conacre in the interim.
However, farmers depending on rented land now face the prospect of the market remaining at artificially high levels for an additional 12 months. Both landowners and those seeking to rent additional land have attempted to maximise the amount of hectares that they are farming in recent months in an effort to benefit from possible CAP payment windfalls in the future.
The negotiations between farm ministers from the 27 EU member states on the future of the CAP are entering the final phase in Brussels today.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is chairing the two-day talks, that aim to agree the council of ministers' position for crucial "trialogue" negotiations involving the EU Parliament, the commission and the council of ministers.
"This is a reform. It's not just about protecting the status quo. There will be winners and losers," he said on his way into the talks yesterday.
"We have to now move from debating this reform to actually deciding it. There were 27 different sets of priorities. Our job is to find a compromise that everyone can live with," he added.