Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Thirty-one companies paid an average SFP of €156,000

Larry Goodman.
Larry Goodman.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

A KILKENNY-based vegetable growing operation earned €323,549 in Single Farm Payments (SFP) last year according to the latest Department of Agriculture figures on SFPs to incorporated bodies in 2013.

The O'Shea family operation based in Piltown was joined by six other companies that all got well over €200,000 each.

Many are household names within the farming community, such as beef barons Larry Goodman and the Keating family.

However, companies such as Branganstown Farms at Castlebellingham in Co Louth that received close to €250,000 in farm subsidies last year are not as well known.

In all, the Department of Agriculture website lists 31 separate companies that received more than €100,000 in what is termed 'European Agricultural Guarantee Fund direct payments in 2013'.

However, it appears that some families appear twice on the list, such as the Whooleys from Derrinkealig, who in addition to their plant hire and construction businesses, collect two SFP totalling just shy of €225,000 on separate farms in west Cork and Galway.

The average SFP for this elite group of 31 was over €156,000.

Cork had by far the most farms in the list, with over 100 companies claiming over €5m in SFPs in 2013.

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Six of the Cork companies received more than €100,000. Meath had five farms receiving more than €100,000, while Donegal had three farmers hitting six figures.

Looking beyond the six-figure payments, there are plenty of well-known entities on the list, but not necessarily for their farming activities.

For example, Hotel Europe, the luxury hotel on the shores of Lough Leane in Killarney, has a tidy SFP of €57,673, along with another €14,408 in other CAP payments in 2013.

The Department has stated that close to 240 farmers were in receipt of SFPs greater than €100,000 in recent years.

The latest round of CAP reform was aimed at bringing a greater distribution of the €1.2bn of direct payments that flow into Ireland annually.

These moves were resisted by the main farm organisations on the basis that the proposed cuts would undermine 'productive' farms. A new limit of €150,000 will be imposed on all payments by the end of 2019.

Only Teagasc's Grange and Oak Park farms had SFPs of more than €100,000, but between six farms at Moorepark, Johnstown Castle, Kildalton and Athenry, along with Grange and Oak Park, the State advisory service collects close to €500,000 a year in farm subsidies.

This is before any payments for facilities at Clonakilty, Solahead or Ballyhaise.

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