Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 21 August 2018

EU confirms advance in farm payments as drought grips Europe

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan
EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers will be able to receive their direct and rural development payments in advance and will be granted more flexibility to use land that would normally not be used for production, in order to feed their animals.

The ongoing and prolonged drought situation in several EU countries is having a significant impact on the production of arable crops, as well as animal feed which could also have an impact on animal welfare.

In addition, the reduction in the level of animal feed is having a particular impact on the income of livestock farmers, as this will increase their input costs if there is a shortage of fodder later in the year.

Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, said he was very concerned about these prolonged climatic developments.

"I have been in contact with a number of ministers from affected countries to discuss the situation and get up-to-date assessments of its impact.

The Commission, as always, is ready to support farmers affected by drought using a number of instruments, including higher advance payments, derogations from greening requirements and state aid.

"The Common Agricultural Policy already provides a safety net for farmers who have to deal with unpredictable events. I am encouraging all Member States to look into all possible actions and measures provided for in our legislation."

Farmers will be able to receive up to 70pc of their direct payment and 85% of payments under rural development already as of mid-October 2018 instead of waiting until December to improve their cash flow situation;

The Commission also confirmed that derogations from specific greening requirements, namely crop diversification and ecological focus area rules on land lying fallow, to allow such land to be used for the production of animal feed. Consideration is also being given to the adoption of further derogations to greening to allow farmers more flexibility to produce fodder.

These measures will be of particular benefit to livestock farmers.

While visiting a number of drought-hit farms in the South East today, IFA President Joe Healy said that Minister Michael Creed needs to deliver real measures to help farmers on the ground.

“ Today’s announcement by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan is welcome, however the benefit of this will not be seen until October 16th” he said.

“While the derogation for the production of animal feed on fallow land is also welcome, important flexibilities are required under the Agri-Enviornment scheme GLAS which would be of much greater assistance.

"IFA estimates that up to 100,000 ha of additional land could be brought into fodder production by granting flexibilities for catch crops, fallow land and low input grassland under GLAS.

“The Government must also explore the additional flexibility available under state aid rules to support farmers at this extremely difficult time” he said.

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