Kelly: 2013 to be reference year for SFP

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Reports in Brussels indicate that 2013 will be the reference year used to establish Single Farm Payment (SFP) entitlements under a reformed CAP, Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly has claimed.

Speaking at the AGM of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) last Friday, Mr Kelly said 2013 was now being touted as the likely reference year.

"2012 and 2013 are the most likely reference years; in fact, I received information this week that 2013 is a strong possibility," Mr Kelly told the meeting.

However, the Department of Agriculture has insisted that the reference year for Ireland will be decided only after the CAP negotiations have been finalised.

"Under the agreed council position a member state may use the first year of implementation of the new regime as a reference year or, alternatively, it can use 2012 or 2013 as a reference year. However, this is the council position and the ultimate reference year for Ireland will be decided post trilogue discussions," the Department stated.

Meanwhile, Mr Kelly said the French frontloading proposal was gaining support in the talks and was likely to be included in the final agreement.

With regard to Pillar II, Mr Kelly accepted that the 50:50 co-financing requirement of the scheme would be a problem for Ireland given the "current dire fiscal straits".

"While it would obviously be best if Ireland could co-finance on a 50:50 basis, we must be realistic about the financial situation the country finds itself in," Mr Kelly cautioned.

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However, he said Minister Coveney was investigating "innovative ways" of funding Pillar II schemes and backed calls for a new environmental package.

"The most important thing for the average farmer in a disadvantaged area is that a properly funded and structured environmental scheme is established based on the old REPS model," he told the meeting.

While Mr Kelly said he was "well aware" that not all farmers were happy with the CAP reform package, he said Minister Coveney's proposals represented the "best possible deal for Irish agriculture".

Irish Independent

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