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Friday 20 January 2017

Anxiety at plans to overhaul SFP system

New CAP reforms will shape EU payments until 2019

Published 11/10/2011 | 05:00

Farmers are anxiously awaiting the EU's formal proposals tomorrow on the details of the CAP reforms that are destined to shape EU farm payments until 2019.

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However, documents seen by the Farming Independent indicate that much of what Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has already outlined remains in the final draft. These include:

•30pc of the budget being ring-fenced for environmental measures.

•2014 is set to be the reference year for calculating payments to farmers for the subsequent five years. The only caveat to this is that farmers must have submitted a Single Farm Payment (SFP) claim this year to qualify for the reference year calculation.

•Active farmers will be those whose SFP is equal to at least 5pc of their total non-farming earnings. The exception to this rule will be all farmers who received a SFP of less than €5,000 in the previous year. In addition, active farmers will be required to "carry out a minimum activity to be established by member states" on their farms.

•A move to flat-rate payments within member states by 2019.

One of the items that had created most discussion among officials in Brussels in the lead up to Commissioner Ciolos' presentation to the Parliament tomorrow was the stipulation that the same basic SFP rate will be paid to farmers in every member state by 2028.

However, this now looks to have been deleted from the final document. A large disparity still exists between the average payments per hectare in the eastern and western Member States. Ireland's average SFP of €270/ha is more than double that of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

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IFA president John Bryan met Irish Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and her officials to highlight the major concerns of Irish farmers with the proposals.

In particular, Mr Bryan outlined his opposition to the proposed flat-rate payment system by 2019, excessive greening and other measures included in the proposals.

ICMSA president Jackie Cahill expressed concern that some of the leaked documents indicate that the Commission intends undermining the position of active farmers.

"The reference year issue is obviously an immediate priority given the potential to seriously disrupt the land rental market immediately and for the next number of years," he said.

"A huge number of active farmers rely on rented or leased land to make their living, and the reference year proposal has the potential to raise rental costs and totally undermine the ability of active farmers to make a living from farming.

"The minister must immediately secure agreement that Ireland can opt for a more historic base year," the ICMSA leader concluded.

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