Éamon Ó Cuív: 'It's incredible that in 2027, we will be basing farm payments on something that happened in 2000 or 2001'
The farmer needs income support if he is going to be there at all. If there are no farmers, there is no environmental protection, in particular in upland areas.
It is incredible that in 2027, we will be basing single farm payments on something that happened in 2000 or 2001. It is equivalent to basing grants in 1960 on what happened in 1933. It is the same timespan.
Nobody in his or her right senses would say there had not been monumental change in that time.
One of the monumental changes in our time that is often ignored is the issue of high-nature value farming. If one does not farm high-nature low-productive areas, in purely agricultural production terms, Europe will not be willing to fund the CAP.
If we want to keep people in the less productive areas, we cannot give the best grants to the people with the best land and the worst grants to the ones with the worst land and hope they will all continue to farm. It is not going to happen.
The second issue with regard to CAP is what I hear about simplification. Everything gets more complicated all the time. Up to two years ago, one could send in an area aid form oneself, but now people who are not familiar with computers or do not have access to the internet have to pay a planner to do it.
A farmer with an excellent farm could get up to €60,000 to €80,000 through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and for greening alone. These are schemes with very low compliance costs.
The stronger farmers I deal with would be lucky to have €10,000 payment from the BPS and greening. What does the farmer at the bottom have to do to make up a decent income? He gets up to €3,000 very handy with the ANC which has low compliance costs.