Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

IFA warns against 'disastrous' shift in SFP calculation method

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

SHARP differences on how single farm payment (SFP) entitlements should be calculated for individual farmers emerged at a major conference last Friday on the future of CAP.

IFA members and farmers from other organisations clashed on the issue, with a vocal contingent from the National Milk Rights Group insisting that the current 'historic' system was not equitable.

The Thurles conference was organised by Ireland South MEP Alan Kelly and took as its theme 'Crisis or opportunity -- rural Ireland and the future of the Common Agricultural Policy'.

IFA president John Bryan maintained that any move from the historic method of calculating the Single Farm Payment would be "disastrous".

He said the SFP had to target active farmers and he warned that any move away from this policy would undermine overall production from the farm sector.

However, representatives from National Milk Rights Group said the current system favoured large units but had failed to protect smaller family farms.

John Comer, of the ICMSA, said holding Ireland's CAP subvention at its current level had to be the primary national objective.

"Every penny coming in from CAP has to be protected," Mr Comer insisted.

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Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said Ireland needed to be clear as a country what it wanted from any new CAP package and then set about achieving these goals.

"Despite all the welcome development of new industries, of information technology and knowledge-based enterprise, Ireland remains a food producing country," Mr Gilmore told the conference.

He said it was vital that the importance of food production and processing, was explained to broader public.

However, a comment from Mr Gilmore that 80pc of SFP funds go to just 20pc of farmers was challenged by leading IFA man Ruaidhri Deasy.

Mr Deasy pointed out that €20,000 of his €65,000 payment went on rent, €25,000 was paid out on wages, €6,000 was taken back on modulation, €5,000 went on tax and other deductions, leaving him with just €9,000.

He said these figures showed that while the money came to one farmer it was actually disbursed among a far greater number of people.

IFA deputy president Eddie Downey pointed out that one of the biggest SFP payments is received by a farmer from his home area of Meath.

While the payment is large, Mr Downey said six members of the same family made a living from the enterprise.

Irish Independent

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