The news that the new frontloading scheme will be set at 10% of direct payment funds was the Wednesday morning bombshell at the CAP announcements.

It means that €118m will be redistributed among farmers every year through the official title for the frontloading, the the Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS). That’s €595m over the five years 2023-2027. Say hello to CRISS, it’s now a very important part of direct payments.

The system will work as follows.

Every year, 10% of all farmers’ direct payment funds will be taken from the direct payments pot. That will then be paid out on the first 30ha of a holding at a rate of €44/ha, giving a potential maximum payment of €1,320.

The decision to maximise the amount of money in CRISS, as called for by the INHFA, will benefit smaller farmers. However, the decision to pay it on a flat rate across the average holding of 30ha dilutes that impact on very small farms of less than 15ha, and lessens the blow to medium-sized farms.

Jigsaw complete

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue also confirmed the other elements of future direct payments. Eco schemes will be at 25%, higher than the 20% the IFA was calling for. This results in a fund of €293m per year, paid out at about €64/ha on all eligible land, whether entitlements are held for that land or not.

Three per cent is being set aside every year for young farmers, more than the 2% modelled previously, which is sure to please Macra. It’s a fund of €178m over the five years, to be paid as basic payment top-ups.

Payments will be capped at €66,000 per recipient

The National Reserve will receive a further €22m annually for young farmers and new entrants. Convergence will be set at 85%, and will be calculated on the net payment after all the other deductions.

Payments will be capped at €66,000 per recipient, with no allowance for wages, the minister also confirmed.