Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Capping farm payments at €60k would save €80m says Fianna Fail

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has said his party’s proposal to cap farm payments at €60,000 does not discriminate against progressive farmers.

Speaking on RTE’s Countrywide programme he said one of the key aims of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is that there is a fair standard of living for those in rural communities.

McConalogue stressed that given the pressures on the overall CAP budget it important that it is seen to be fair and that it does support farmers.

“Not in the way that we see in the most recent allocation with beef processors that are getting hundreds of thousands and large stud farms which are getting hundreds and hundreds of thousands,” he said.

In his view and in Fianna Fail’s view it is important that that is done fairly and said lowering the cap on payments to €60,000 would increase the overall legitimacy of CAP budget.

According to McConalogue, 99pc of farmers are currently under the threshold and the move would only affect 1pc of farmers.

He also claimed that the saving would be €80m per year and said it should be spent on measures to encourage younger people to take up farming.

Farmers depend on cheques from Brussels to make up three-quarters of income.

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The average direct payment per farm was nearly €18,000 last year - which was 75pc of farm income on average and almost 100pc of the income on cattle and sheep farms.

EU farm payments: The biggest earners revealed

Larry Goodman and his family, who through two farms - Branganstown and Glydee - received €217,153 and €214,275 in EU payments in 2016 - giving them a combined income of €430,000 in EU farm subsidies.

Mr Goodman has the largest EU farm payment by far of any individual in Ireland.

His home farm at Castlebellingham, Co Louth, is the 850-acre Branganstown enterprise. However, he also owns in excess of 1,100 acres in his Glydee farm at Kilsaren.

Mr Goodman is believed to own a further 350 acres as well as the privately owned ABP meat processing group.

Other Irish farmers who receive significant money in EU payments included Walter Furlong of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, at €429,824. Mr Furlong has built up a large grain production outfit with his business partner Kevin Cooney. Between them they own the Cooney & Furlong Grain Company.

O'Shea farms, owned by Richard, Thomas, Joseph and Seamus O'Shea in Co Kilkenny, received €244,693.61.

Terence Coughlan, a tillage farmer outside Fermoy, tops the list of recipients in Co Cork. It is understood that he farms in the region of 2,000 acres and he received €227,469.

However, the individuals' EU payments are surpassed by the €6m Teagasc receives and the €3.9m Commercial Mushroom PRS Co-op receives. Bord Bia received €2.28m last year, while Ornua received €1.6m.

In a recent FarmIreland survey, 75pc of farmers said they are unhappy with the current farm payment system and that payments are unfairly distributed, with many saying that they would prefer a fair price for their produce instead of subsidies.

Online Editors

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