EU signals end date for historical regime
Leaked reform plans state flat-rate payment in store from 2019
The EU Commission has, for the first time, suggested a deadline of January 1, 2019, for the ending of the current single farm payment (SFP) regime.
The details are included in a leaked draft of the EU's CAP reform plans.
While the text suggests that member states may continue to take historical factors into account to avoid financial disruption for farmers for up to one year after 2019, a flat-rate payment system based on either a national or a smaller regional basis will apply from this point.
The document puts flesh on the bones of Commissioner Dacian Ciolos's aims to phase out historical payments and link the payments to more 'greening' measures.
It now appears that farmers will be required to perform three mandatory measures that go beyond cross-compliance requirements, including crop diversification, the maintenance of permanent grasslands and a 5pc land designation to ecological purposes to qualify for a top-up on the basic farm payment.
Crop diversification will require farmers with tillage enterprises to have at least three different crops each covering more than 5pc of their arable land.
The ecological requirement will demand 5pc of farmland be devoted to buffer strips or left fallow. Only organic farmers will be exempted from this requirement. The document suggests that Ireland should set aside 30pc or almost €400m of the €1.3bn annual Single Farm Payment for these enviromental measures.
A progressive capping of SFP payments that exceed €150,000 has also been outlined. Farmers receiving more than €150,000 will pay a 20pc levy on all payments up to €200,000, 40pc on payments from €200,000-250,000 and 70pc on payments from €250,000-300,000.