A difference of close to €100/ha still exists between the average CAP payments received by farmers in the southeast and those in the northwest.
Average Pillar I payments of €313-314/ha were secured by farmers in Carlow, Kilkenny Laois and Wexford in 2019, Department of Agriculture figures show. These were the counties with the highest average payments in the country.
In contrast, farmers in Leitrim secured an average Pillar I payment of just €217/ha last year, €96-97/ha less than that paid in the southeast.
The Leitrim Pillar I average for 2019 was the lowest in the country. Other counties with low average payments included Donegal (€220/ha), Kerry (€221/ha), Mayo (€222/ha) and Sligo (€224/ha).
Despite the country moving to 60pc convergence of Pillar I payments, the Department of Agriculture figures confirm that a wide disparity in average payouts still exists between the west and north-west and the more intensively farmed south and east.
Among the other counties with high Pillar I payments in 2019 were Meath, Louth and Tipperary, where farmers received an average of €299-300/ha.
Similarly, an average of €294-295/ha was paid to farmers in the Munster dairy strongholds of Cork and Waterford.
Meanwhile, farmers in both Monaghan and Offaly received an average of €291/ha, while the average for Kildare was €282/ha.
With negotiations on the new CAP programme and budget due to kick off later this year, the issue of convergence of payments will again move centre stage.
The European Parliament has insisted that member states move to 100pc convergence; this would result in an average payment of around €265-268/ha for Irish farmers.
However, the Commission and some member states want convergence to be limited to 75pc of the national average. This would result in all farmers getting a minimum payment equal to €200/ha. Currently the minimum is €160/ha.
However, the flattening of CAP payments remains a hugely divisive issue, given that it involves a significant shift in payments between regions and counties - as well as from intensive to extensive farmers.
The farm organisations have taken divergent views on the matter, as a consequence. The INHFA want full flattening of payments to the national average.
However, the IFA and ICMSA are steadfastly opposed to further convergence beyond the current 60pc level, unless additional funding is provided by the State or the EU to bring farmers on low payments up to the national average.