Farming

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ó cuív calls for a rethink on CAP payments plan

Fianna Fáil's Éamonn Ó Cuív has challenged the Minster for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to defend his CAP reform proposals.

The opposition's agriculture spokesman claimed that the new CAP regime could be implemented in a way that would save over 85pc of farmers from any cut to their Single Farm Payment (SFP).

The Galway West TD insisted that it wasn't too late to re-engineer how the €1.8bn in annual CAP payments were divided out among farmers.

"The agriculture committee were assured by the Department of Agriculture that no final decisions would be made until after the budget for Pillar II funding was revealed," said Deputy Ó Cuív.

"We were looking at a pig in a poke in terms of assessing what could be done with Pillar I payments until we could see what was on the table in Pillar II," he claimed.

Mr Ó Cuív is about to commence a nationwide series of meetings to win support from farmers for his CAP plan.

One of the key proposals is that no farmer should be paid more than €400/ha by 2019, a full €300/ha lower than what Minister Simon Coveney has outlined. "The statistics show that there is no link between productivity and the payments per hectare when the entitlement values go above €400/ha. The notion that the guy with entitlements worth €750/ha was twice as productive as the guy with €350/ha is a myth," claimed Deputy Ó Cuív.

AVERAGE

The Fianna Fáil spokesman wants payments reduced from the top down, by just enough to fund the transfer required to bring up payments under the national average to the minimum of €160/ha by 2019.

"That means that all the guys on the really high payments bear the full brunt of the first increase in year one, followed by farmers on slightly higher payments in year two and so on until we get to €400/ha in 2019," explained Deputy Ó Cuív.

With over 85pc of farmers currently receiving less than €400/ha, Deputy Ó Cuív believes this is a more equitable distribution of CAP funding.

However, the plan requires a transfer of €300m from Pillar II funding.

"My plan requires the Government to put an extra €600m into Pillar II, which I believe is possible," he said.

Deputy Ó Cuív claims when the carry over of €170m from the previous Rural Development Plan is excluded from the Government's calculations for the next six years, that national funding only reaches 42pc of the total Pillar II pot, in contrast to Minister Coveney's assertion that it is closer to 47pc.

The Galway TD also claimed that the new GLAS scheme would never account for the €250m a year that has been allocated to it.

"There's no way that farmers will be able to get the maximum amount available from this scheme," said Deputy Ó Cuív.

In addition, he believes that the greening payment should be paid at a flat rate of approximately €73/ha to every farmer.

Minister Coveney opted for 'variable greening' where the greening payment makes up 30pc of the farmer's payment, regardless of how high their payment rates are per hectare.

The first of Deputy Ó Cuív's meetings commence this Friday at 8.30pm in the Station House Hotel, Clifden, Co Galway. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for: Tuesday, February 18 in Ballaghadereen; Friday, February 21 in Dungarvan; Tuesday, February 25 in Gort; Friday, February 28 in Scarriff; and Friday, March 7 in Bantry.

Irish Independent