Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

CAP negotiators look to two-tier direct payment

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

CAP negotiators for the European Parliament are looking at a two-tier system to accommodate the millions of hectares of land that will be brought into a reformed direct payment system.

"I can be open to a minimum payment of 60-65pc on land already receiving direct payments, but not for new hectares," said Italian MEP Paulo De Castro, who heads up the European Parliament's negotiating team.

He hit out at Commissioner Dacian Ciolos's demands for a new minimum payment of 75pc of the national average, claiming the Commission must give more leeway as negotiations on CAP reform enter the crucial final weeks.

"Commissioner Ciolos needs to pay more attention to the European Parliament's mandate in this reform process," he told the Farming Independent this week.

"We need more flexibility from him on his demands for a minimum payment of 75pc of the national average, which will not work in countries like Spain, Italy, Ireland and France."

The Italian MEP said that he is still hopeful of a deal by the end of June, although he believes that the Commission must do more to prevent too many issues being left to the last minute.

"The Commission have all the facts and analysis and we need them to help us explore where we can find flexibility before the last week (in June)," he said.

Irish farm organisations appear to be privately conceding that a new minimum payment is on the way for farmers here.

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While public statements from the IFA, ICMSA and ICSA continue to flatly reject the EU Commission's desire for a minimum payment of at least 75pc of the national average, top officials in the farm bodies are now trying to calculate how much money will be redistributed at various minimum payment levels.

The Commission's original proposal to move to a flat rate payment of €260/ha would have seen €281m being transferred from farmers with the highest payments to those on the lowest.

Department of Agriculture analysis shows that bringing every farmer's payment to at least 80pc of the national average would reduce the transfer of money to €195m.

The Minister for Agriculture's original proposal using an approximation model would have limited the redistribution to just €74m. However, Minister Coveney has now moved to a point in the negotiations where he hopes he can limit the amount of money being reallocated to €140m.

It is estimated that a new minimum payment of 50pc of the national average, or €130/ha, would see close to €100m change hands between farmers.

Irish Independent