Comer counters ó Cuív's plans for SFP share-out
The Irish presidency's front-loading proposal to the last EU Council of Farm Ministers meeting was for a single farm payment (SFP) of €314 for the first 32ha, with a payment of €190/ha (€182/ha when the 3pc cut is factored in) on all remaining eligible lands.
Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesman Eamon Ó Cuív told a CAP conference at the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin on Saturday that he had received confirmation of the proposal in answer to a Dáil question.
Deputy Ó Cuív said the inequity of the current SFP distribution – where 70pc of farmers got less than €10,000, while 243 received more than €100,000 – meant that a serious revamp was necessary.
However, he said he did not agree with a simple 'flat rate' payment mechanism tabled by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, but was in favour of front loading payments on the first 20-30ha and capping total payments at around €50,000 per farmer.
"Under the Ciolos proposals an awful lot of medium-sized farmers would be crucified," Deputy Ó Cuív said, adding that they would not have the "pocket power" to survive such a financial hit.
He told the conference that a variant of a French proposal for a two-tier payment system that would give a top-up payment on the first 50ha would be fairer overall and would keep payments at a high enough level for commercial farmers.
ICMSA president John Comer did not agree and said such a system would lead to landowners "living in Dublin" drawing payments down the country. But Deputy Ó Cuív said that by requiring SFP applicants to keep a minimum stocking rate, payments could be targeted at "active farmers".
"No farmer who doesn't comply with that minimum stocking level should be entitled to get any payment," Mr Ó Cuív said, unless they had a derogation on environmental grounds. Gerry Gunning of the IFA accepted the historic system for calculating SFP entitlements was gone.