MEP pushes for a phased SFP move
Any move away from the historic means of establishing farmers' Single Farm Payment (SFP) entitlements must be done on a phased basis, a leading member of the European Parliament's agriculture committee has insisted.
George Lyon will draft a key report for the parliament, setting out their priorities for the upcoming reform of CAP. The Liberal Democrat MEP, a former president of the National Farmers' Union in Scotland, said a sudden scrapping of the current historic mechanism for calculating the SFP was not a realistic option.
Mr Lyon pointed out that 12 out of the original 15 EU member states used reference years to set their SFP entitlements. He suggested that moving away from this system would take several years and that an area-based payment might be phased in between 2013 and 2020.
The Scottish MEP predicted that this process would involve the two systems running side by side for a period, with an increasing proportion of farmers' payments being delivered on a per-hectare basis as time elapsed.
He insisted that any new mechanism for setting the SFP had to use criteria that reflected cost of production in individual member states and also the payment received by countries under Pillar 2 of the CAP. He added that the area of land farmed in each state had to be established with certainty.
Mr Lyon led a delegation of MEPs who met with Agriculture Minister, Brendan Smith, and farmer organisations last week. The delegation also included Marian Harkin and Fianna Fail representatives Liam Aylward and Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher.
"The key message from these meetings has been the need for a strong CAP. With €1.8bn coming in each year there is a strong desire to see that continue," Mr Lyon said.
"The threat of substantial cuts would clearly be a major threat to Irish agriculture and could result in job losses and land abandonment," he added