Farmers with highest payments are not the most productive - INHFA
Recipients of higher payments have progressively lower stocking rates according to latest BPS data
INHFA president Colm O'Donnell has described as a "myth" the assertion that applicants with the highest per hectare entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) are the most productive farmers.
Mr O'Donnell (pictured) said that information released to the INHFA under a freedom of information request proved that the most productive farmers were not those with the highest per hectare entitlements.
The Department of Agriculture figures for 2017 show that farmers with payments of between €300/ha and €400/ha have the highest average stocking rate of 1.77lu/ha.
However, farmers with higher payments have progressively lower stocking rates, falling from 1.7lu/ha for those with average payments of €400-500/ha, to 1.62lu/ha for those with average payments of €600-700/ha, and back to 1.26lu/ha for those with payments between €800/ha and €900/ha.
"The widely expressed viewpoint that the farmers in receipt of the highest per hectare payment are the most productive has being proven as nothing more than myth," Mr O'Donnell claimed.
He pointed out that farmers in receipt of between €100/ha and €200/ha have a marginally higher stocking density at 1.19lu/ha than those with entitlements of €1,000/ha, who have a stocking density of 1.18lu/ha.
While Mr O'Donnell accepted that many of those with high entitlements were tillage farmers or vegetable growers, which obviously impacted on average stocking rates, he said the Department's data destroyed the contention that high BPS payments were an indicator of high productivity.
The INHFA leader argued that farmers with payments below €100/ha were often working designated lands and commonage and were therefore constrained by stocking-rate restrictions.