Commonage farmers face Single Farm Payment freeze
Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30
Up to 8,000 commonage farmers will not be able to claim their Single Farm Payment over the coming years due to rule changes regarding stocking rates.
Fianna Fail's agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív has claimed that farmers who don't adhere to a minimum stocking rate on their commonage ground will automatically disqualify themselves from their Single Farm Payments.
"There are over 13,250 farmers in the country with commonage, with nearly 85pc of these along the five western seaboards. But the reality is that well over half of them never put anything to the hill," said Deputy Ó Cuív.
He said that this arrangement suited all involved as it made it viable for the remaining farmers to graze their stock on the commonage.
"It shouldn't matter who puts the sheep on the hill to keep it in a semi-natural state.
"Despite the fact that this latest round of CAP reform promised to simplify the system, we now find that every commonage farmer will be forced into having stock on the hill that will, in turn, lead to all kinds of complicated messing and bureaucracy."
Deputy Ó Cuív has also criticised the fact that the Rural Development Programme (RDP) money will not be fully allocated until the end of 2023.
"This effectively reduces the RDP money for the period 2014-2020 by up to an eighth of the funds.
"In addition GLAS payments in 2015 will be set at a maximum of 75pc for the part of the calendar year after full approval.
"This means that if a farmer is approved on September 1, he will only receive 25pc of his full annual payment in 2015. If approval is delayed until October 1, farmers will only get 17.5pc of the payment, and just 12.5pc if the start date is November 1," said the Galway West TD.
"This proves that the total spend allocated in the plan to GLAS is totally exaggerated and will never be achieved in the period outlined, even up to 2023. I believe the whole plan is unravelling in the small print," he concluded.