ó Cuív: There's time to reshape CAP proposals
Minimum stocking rates look set to be imposed on farmers on marginal land in order for them to qualify for future Single Farm Payments (SFP).
This is despite the fact that lowland farmers will only be required to top their fields once a year in order to fit the Department of Agriculture's definition of an 'active farmer'.
The Department has stated that persons who do not rear or grow agricultural products can still qualify for a SFP provided they keep their land in 'good agricultural and environmental condition'.
On lowland farms, this often equates to as little as one run of the grass and weed topper per year.
However, farmers on marginal land that is not suitable for topping will be required to prove a minimum level of activity on their land under terms that are still to be spelled out in the Delegated Acts that will govern the administration of the new SFP system.
A minimum stocking rate similar to that operating in the Disadvantaged Area scheme is the most likely mechanism to be introduced by Department officials, according to Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív.
"This is yet another example of how the Minister for Agriculture insists on making life difficult for farmers on marginal land in future schemes," said Deputy Ó Cuív. "There remains a significant doubt as to whether farmers with both enclosed land and commonage will be entitled to any SFP if they do not actively farm their commonage, even if the commonage is already farmed to its full capacity. This is in addition to the impossible requirement in GLAS that at least 80pc of the participants in a commonage have to form a grazing association and apply as a collective," he added.
Deputy Ó Cuív hit back at criticism that his counter-proposals on the redistribution of the CAP had come too late in the day for both farmers and Department officials.
"I've received written confirmation that the earliest relevant notification date for the Department in relation to the carve up of Pillar I here in Ireland is August 1. That means that we still have time to reshape the Minister's current proposals, if the required support is present at grass roots," said Deputy Ó Cuív.
Due to the recent storms, Deputy Ó Cuív's series of meetings nationwide have been rescheduled. The first takes place in Durkin's, Ballaghdadereen, Co Roscommon this evening.
The next takes place next Tuesday, February 25 in the Lady Gregory, Gort, Co Galway, followed by meetings in the Grianán Hotel, Burt, Co Donegal on Thursday, February 27 at 8.30pm and Julian's, Midfield, Swinford, Co Mayo on Friday, February 28.
All meetings scheduled for 8.30pm, with further dates and locations to be confirmed in March.
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