Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

CAP coupling divides farm leadership

ICSA's Edmond Phelan
ICSA's Edmond Phelan
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Battlelines are deepening between farm leaders over how to couple part of the Single Farm Payment.

The ICSA have now joined the country's second largest farm body, the ICMSA, in denouncing the IFA's proposals to create a €144m pot to fund coupled payments for sheep, beef, tillage and dairy farmers.

The coupling proposal also came in for serious criticism last week during a meeting of the IFA's national council.

"Beef farmers will not accept a cut of up to 10pc on their single farm payment (SFP) to subsidise a support payment for an industry that's twice as profitable as their own.

"To suggest that dairy farms should be subsidised by the lower-income farm systems is an absolute nonsense," said the ICSA's Edmond Phelan.

The most recent National Farm Survey by Teagasc shows that dairy farms returned €939/ha in 2012, compared to €419/ha for beef finishing farms.

The ICSA claims that the re-introduction of coupling is fundamentally flawed.

"It simply means beef finishers will turn up to the mart with 10pc less to spend on weanlings. This will have a negative impact on weanling prices," Mr Phelan claimed.

Also Read

Debate over how a coupled payment should be implemented dominated the IFA's national council meeting last week.

County representatives were sent home to get direction from each of their county executives on a number of unresolved issues. One of the most contentious is defining the cut-off points for both the size and location of 'vulnerable' dairy herds that would qualify for a coupled payment.

However, many county leaders are also anxious that the demand on money from farmers' core SFP could increase if the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, does not commit €36m of Government funding to the €144m pot proposed by the IFA executive.

In addition to opposition from winter finishers, tillage and dairy farmers, there is weakening support for a coupled payment in the west.

Here, farmers believe that coupling will reduce the available funding for key schemes such as the Disadvantaged Area Scheme and future environmental schemes.


In July, the North Cork county executive passed a resolution expressing their total opposition against coupling in any form.

The IFA needs to finalise its position on coupling at the next national council meeting on September 17.

That's just two days before the deadline for submissions to the Department of Agriculture on the future shape of CAP payments.

Council members were warned that, if they were not able to reach a consensus by then, the 'box' relating to coupling would be left 'blank'.

This would then leave Minister Coveney with greater scope to implement his own preferences in relation to coupling up to 8pc of the €1.2bn CAP payments.

Indo Farming