Stocking rate link could spare cuts
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.