Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 20 January 2018

Battle lines drawn on the roll out of reformed CAP

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Battle lines are being drawn as farm organisations square up for the next phase of negotiations on CAP reform.

While the broad parameters of what EU Member States must comply with over the next seven years were finalised in Brussels last week, there is huge flexibility built into how measures can be implemented in each country.

A payment of close to €146/ha has been agreed as a new minimum payment for every hectare of eligible land submitted to the EU farm payment system.

This will result in 60,000 farmers getting a 35pc increase in their Single Farm Payment (SFP) by 2019.

This extra payment will be funded by cuts of up to 28pc on all payments over the national average of €260/ha. The average cut will be 12pc for 50,000 farmers currently receiving above the national average.

It will result in €103m being transferred to farmers that are currently on less than the national average.

However, all farmers in receipt of more than €2,000 a year in their SFP will lose another 8pc in the first year of the new scheme due to a lower overall CAP budget, along with deductions for a crisis fund, a national reserve and a young farmer top-up.

But this cut could fall to 5-6pc each year after 2015 since the national reserve will not be required to be deducted each year up to 2019.

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The big winners from the reforms are young farmers under 40 years of age in 2015.

ENTITLEMENTS

They will be entitled to a 25pc top up on their payments for up to five years provided they have only started farming in their own right after 2011.

However, a number of key issues remain to be decided by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney over the coming months.

These include whether Ireland chooses to use up to €120m of the national envelope for coupled payment top-ups to beef and sheep farmers and cereal farmers that choose to grow protein crops.

The Department of Agriculture can also choose to transfer anything up to €180m of the money from Pillar I into the rural development Pillar II. It can also do the opposite and take up to 15pc of Pillar II to top-up payments in Pillar I.

A €60m new disadvantaged area scheme can also be introduced into Pillar I.

The amounts that are paid out either per hectare or per applicant can also be capped at the member state's discretion. In addition, up to 30pc of the national average can be used to front-load or top-up payments on the first 32ha that every applicant farms.

These undecided issues mean that it is still impossible to predict exactly what an individual's payment will be over the next seven years.

Coupling is the immediate flashpoint with the ICMSA reiterating its determination to block any attempt to reintroduce a coupled payment.

"The ICMSA will not countenance another 8pc cut in SFPs to fund a coupled payment and we'd very strongly urge Minister Coveney to put any such idea firmly off the agenda immediately," said ICMSA president John Comer.

DETERMINED

"We understand that the EU Commission was absolutely determined to push through the principle of flattening.

"But coupling is an entirely different matter that would transfer money from full-time farmers primarily to benefit a part-time farming activity," he said.

The IFA are holding an extended national council meeting in Dublin today to thrash through the possibilities.

IFA president John Bryan is pushing Minister Coveney to introduce "measures" to address the issue of low incomes in vulnerable sectors and regions across the country. He also called for a commitment on 50/50 co-financing of Pillar II.

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Irish Independent