Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

MEP's back 30pc greening payment but avoid flattening SFP

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

SINGLE Farm Payment (SFP) convergence and greening targets were some of the CAP reform measures agreed by the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament last week.

While MEPs agreed that 30pc of the SFP should be allocated to greening, they shied away from using greening as a tool for driving the redistribution of SFP entitlements.

The compromise agreement on amendments to the CAP reform proposals had majority support in the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee last Friday. These draft amendments will be voted on by MEPS at the end of January and will then form the basis for the negotiating stance of the Parliament.

"The broad parameters of a Parliament agreement have taken shape despite the fact that there are very many unknowns including the size of the available budget, the timelines in regard to implementation of agreed measures, and the number of hectares that will qualify for the Single Farm Payments," explained Ireland West MEP, Marian Harkin.

"This means that the Single Farm Payment will now be split in two, with 30pc allocated to greening," Ms Harkin said.

The MEP said the pace at which member states completed convergence of payments had been left flexible.

"The Parliament proposal is that by 2021 all payments should be within a plus or minus 20pc range of the average national payment," Ms Harkin said.

She said member states could also choose to use the external convergence model. This model is favoured by Ireland and proposes that any farmer whose SFP is below the average would gain one third of the difference between the current payment and the national average.

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There is also a proposed derogation that would allow Member States to pay the greening payment as 30pc of an individual farmer's current payment.

This is in contrast to the Commission's original proposal to pay every farmer 30pc of the national average as a greening payment.

"If the derogation is accepted it would mean that there would be no flattening of the greening payment and would in my opinion represent a disaster for those on a low single farm payment," Ms Harkin said.

The Ireland West MEP also warned that there were serious concerns that Ireland's allocation of the EU Rural Development or Pillar II budget could be severely cut.

"Recent developments in the European Council where President Von Rumpuy proposed a 9pc cut in Rural Development funds, allied to a special payout for the Baltic states, Italy and Austria, means that the overall cut will be in excess of 10pc," Ms Harkin claimed.

"While the Commission has not published their proposals in regard to the member states share-out, rumours are circulating about a further significant cut to Ireland's share," she added.

Ireland receives €350m in Pillar II funds from Brussels under the current CAP agreement.

A 10pc reduction would equate to a €35m cut in the transfers from Brussels but could mean a €70m loss at farm level as most payments are co-funded, 50:50, by national governments.

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