Creed examining options for future farm payments system

Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron

Tim Ryan

A lot of modelling must be done to ensure the right decision is made in regard to the future funding of the Common Agricultural Policy, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed told the Dáil last week.

Speaking during Question Time, he told Sinn Féin's Spokesman Martin Kenny the framework for the next CAP is set out in the European Commission's paper

The Future of Food and Farming, which was published in November 2017. "It is critically important that the CAP of the future serves all citizens of the European Union," he said.

"It must support family farms and underpin the production of food to the highest standards of quality and safety. It will also be required to contribute to environmental sustainability and the development of rural areas."

In order to ensure that he had heard the views of Irish citizens on the future of CAP, in January of this year, he said launched a public consultation process which included a series of public meetings as well as an opportunity to make written submissions.

"I am aware of the various potential options for the future distribution of CAP payments, including consideration of a flat-rate payment system," he said. "In that regard, officials from my Department are currently assessing all possibilities around the effective targeting of direct payments in the context of CAP post 2020."

"We are all interested stakeholders when it comes to our future food supply and the protection of our environment," he added. 

"With that in mind, my officials and I will continue to engage with the European Commission and other member states regarding the future CAP framework."

Deputy Kenny said that in the context of the basic payments under Pillar 1, the traditional method of referring to 2000 or 2001 to decide the amount of payment farmers will receive, is almost 20 years old. 

"Most farmers understand that it does not work anymore and a new system must be put in place," he said.

He asked if the Government was prepared to consider the possibility of a flat-rate payment per hectare, some of which would be front-loaded to ensure that smallholders get the best payment possible in order to secure family farms.