More than half of EU farmers receive less than €1,250 a year in subsidies

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Figures from Europe show that over half of EU farmers receive less than €1,250 in EU subsidies every year, while a small number of beneficiaries receive the largest payments.

Just 4pc of direct payments are divided amongst more than half of the current beneficiaries, who receive less than €1,250 per year, and the European Parliament has said that it believes that it is essential for the credibility of the CAP that there is convergence of payments to beneficiaries, both between Member States and within Member States.

While Europe has 12m farmers, the averages farm size is 15ha compared to an average of 180ha in the US, the distribution of CAP subsidies to farmers has often been criticised by farmers and the public.

Figures from the European Commission show that while 20pc of farmers receive 80pc of the payments, half of CAP beneficiaries are very small farms and most of the payments go to medium-size professional family farms.

The CAP has been strongly criticised in recent years for its top-end payments, with one in five of the top recipients of EU subsidies billionaries, and it accounts for 40pc of the total EU budget.

The EU average share of direct payments in agricultural factor income in 2011-2015 stood at 28pc, but more than 40pc of incomes in some countries including Ireland. In Ireland the average EU payment is around €12,500, while over 300 received over €100,000. In recent months, the European Commission has proposed an upper limit of €60,000 on CAP payments to farmers.

A recent European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development heard that DG AGRI’s annual activity report 2016, shows the contribution made by the CAP to the increase of employment rates in rural areas, specifically contributing to them returning to pre-crisis levels, with 65pc of the working age population in jobs, compared to 64.8pc in 2008 and the lowest level of 62.5pc in 2011.

It also heard that it is still too early to draw conclusions on the precise environmental outcomes of greening but says that other factors, apart from greening, also influence the environmental performance of the agriculture sector; underlines that 'greening' serves as an example of the increased need for performance auditing also in the field of agriculture.

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The committee said it welcomed the fact that the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) saw further improvement and enhanced precision, which makes it a great tool in reducing the error rate as well as the administrative burden for farmers and paying agencies.

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