Government announces €10bn in subsidies and rural support
Farm subsidies and supports for rural areas will total almost €10bn between 2023-27 with a new cap of €66,000 on individual payments to be introduced, the Government announced yesterday.
The supports, which include funding from both the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the national Exchequer, come as Irish farmers face significant challenges in meeting new climate action targets.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the investment of €2.3bn of national funding in rural development measures demonstrated the Government’s continuing commitment to farmers, to rural areas and to the rural economy.
“It is an enormous vote of confidence in the sector’s ability to meet the considerable challenges it faces, and to secure an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future, for farming families and for society more widely,” he said.
The announcement also saw Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue make a number of crucial decisions regarding how the funding would be allocated to farmers.
From 2023, farmers with direct payments above the national average will see them reduced, so that all farmers’ payment values will reach a minimum level of 85pc of the national average value by 2026.
Further, some 10pc of farmers’ direct payments will be distributed through a new front-loading mechanism in a bid to offer more support to small and medium-sized farmers.
It is also proposed that 25pc of the funding for farmers’ direct payments will be set aside for eco-schemes which farmers will need to take part in to draw down the funding.
The minister will also implement capping of individual direct payments with payments between €60,000 and €100,000 reduced by 85pc, giving an effective cap of €66,000. On average, the total direct payment received per farm in 2020 was €17,850.
Mr McConalogue described the funding package as a real commitment to farm families and said it will support our farmers to produce ‘top-class, world-famous food’ while helping them make an impact in meeting our climate ambitions.
“Farm income and environmental sustainability is at the centre of everything I believe in and I know farmers will recognise the range of supports put in place,” he said.
The announcement also saw €1.5bn allocated to a new flagship agri-environment scheme to replace previous schemes such as REPS and GLAS. A further €256m in funding has been allocated to organic farming, a sharp increase on previous programmes.
IFA President Tim Cullinan said the message from the Government announcement is that it’s not interested in supporting ‘active farming’.
“A cohort of our most productive farmers are going to be devastated by the CAP decisions at EU level. The minister’s own decisions today will do nothing to help these farmers,” he said.
He added that at present, only a third of Irish farmers are viable and said the announcements will reduce the number of viable farmers.
ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that the increase in the funding allocation was welcome and there was a sense that an effort had been made. The problem, he said, was the very distinct bias against the commercial family farm – the very sector that he said was “the basis for everything else in economic, social, demographic and environmental terms”.