Smith seeks SFP payments debate
IRELAND may have to examine alternatives to the historic basis for calculating the Single Farm Payment (SFP), Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith has suggested.
Minister Smith pointed out changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013 would inevitably flow from the EU-wide discussions process, which is likely to gather pace this year.
CAP funding will also be strongly influenced by EU budget talks, which are due to start this year.
Minister Smith said the manner in which the SFP is calculated in Ireland is already in the spotlight and that the issue will have to be addressed.
"There is huge pressure for changes to be made to the historic basis used to calculate Single Farm Payments and I believe we owe it to ourselves to at least examine the alternatives," Minster Smith maintained.
The minister's comments will cause concern among farm organisations who claim that defending the current method for calculating SFP payments must be a key priority for Ireland in the upcoming negotiations.
The SFP is paid on a per hectare basis in many eastern European countries and the Commission wants this system extended to other member states.