Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Stocking rate link could spare cuts

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Almost 35,000 farmers could be spared cuts to their Single Farm Payment (SFP) if payments were linked to stocking rates.

Fianna Fail's agriculture spokesman, Eamon ó Cuiv, has claimed that farmers with payments below €365/ha could be shielded from reductions to their SFP entitlements to generate the €103m required to bring up payments below the national average should Minister Coveney opt to cap payments.

A cap of close to €400/ha would need to be imposed on all entitlements that would still be above this amount in 2019. By this stage, payments to farmers with entitlements over €400/ha in value will already have been reduced through approximation by anything from 13pc to 28pc.

Department of Agriculture calculations show that capping all payments at a maximum of €400/ha by 2019 would generate an extra €32m.

This would be enough to cover the losses that farmers with entitlements paying up to €364/ha (in 2013) would suffer through approximation over the next six years.

Department calculations also show that capping payment at a maximum of €450/ha by 2019 would generate an extra €17m.

"Tackling the redistribution of payments this way moves away from perpetuating an historical system where we reward those who got very significant payments back in 2001," said Deputy ó Cuiv.

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"Those farmers just happened to be lucky enough to be involved in finishing cattle. The weanling seller did very badly in comparison."

Deputy ó Cuiv said that a cap on payments above €400/ha would mirror the productivity of land currently getting more than this.

"Stocking rates are as good a measure of productivity and activity for livestock farmers as we have at the moment. And the Department's data shows that stocking rates do not increase in any statistically significant way with payments above €400/ha," said Deputy ó Cuiv.

"So instead of clinging to an historical system, we can relate the payments to objective criteria and at the same time protect the bulk of farmers that are currently getting €252-364/ha."

Irish Independent

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