Hill farmers call for direct payments to be front-loaded
Front-loading of Pillar 1 payments and increased national exchequer backing for Pillar 2 were the primary demands made by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) at their National Rally held in Westport recently.
The hill farmer body claimed that the last CAP reforms had delivered just "minimal redistribution" in Pillar 1 supports and front-loaded payments on the first 20ha were required to ensure a more equitable distribution of supports.
The 500 farmers in attendance heard the INHFA call for a digressive flat-rate payment on all eligible lands above 20ha, with payments to individual applicants capped at €60,000.
The INHFA also called for the suggested Eco Scheme measure - which is part of Pillar 1 in the current CAP reform proposals - to be mandatory at both Member State and farmer level.
The Eco Scheme should account for 30pc of farmers' Pillar 1 payments, the meeting was told, and be paid at a flat-rate payment of €75/ha from 2020.
With regard to the make-up of the Eco Scheme, the INHFA is recommending that it should involve the measurement of each farm's carbon footprint and also provide for a suite of suitable actions for extensive and intensive farming systems.
The INHFA called on the Government to honour its commitment to provide additional funding and ensure the overall Pillar 2 pot exceeded €650m.
The organisation said an additional €80m should be targeted at the ANC scheme, with increased payments for lands with the highest level of constraint.