European Commission officially unveils CAP 2020 proposals
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan announced on Friday his plans for a modernised, simplified CAP post-2020.

With a budget of €365bn, the Common Agricultural Policy proposals give member states greater flexibility and responsibility for choosing how and where to invest their CAP funding. However, they will each have to meet goals set at EU level towards a smart, resilient, sustainable and competitive agricultural sector, while at the same time ensuring a fair and better targeted support of farmers' income.

The main features of the Commission’s proposals CAP 2020 are:

1. A new way of working: member states will have more flexibility in how to use their funding allocations, allowing them to design programmes that respond to farmers' and wider rural communities' concerns. Member states will also have the option to transfer up to 15% of their CAP allocations between direct payments and rural development and vice-versa to ensure that their priorities and measures can be funded. A level playing-field among member states will be ensured through:

  • Strategic plans covering the whole period, setting out how each member state intends to meet nine EU-wide economic, environmental and social objectives, using both direct payments and rural development. The Commission will approve each plan to ensure consistency and the protection of the single market.
  • The Commission will follow each country's performance and progress towards the agreed targets.
  • 2. Better targeting of support: direct payments will remain an essential part of the policy, ensuring stability and predictability for farmers. Priority will be given to supporting the small and medium-sized farms that constitute the majority of the EU’s farming sector, and to helping young farmers. The Commission remains committed to external convergence.

    Direct payments to farmers above a threshold €60,000 will be reduced and capped for payments above €100,000 per farm. Labour costs will be taken fully into account.

    Front loading: small and medium-sized farms will receive a higher level of support per hectare.

    Countries will have to set aside at least 2% of their direct payment allocation for helping young farmers' get set up. This will be complemented by financial support for rural development and different measures facilitating access to land and land transfers.

    3. Environmental and climate action: climate change, natural resources, biodiversity, habitats and landscapes are all addressed. Farmers' income support is already linked to the application of environment and climate-friendly practices and the new CAP will include mandatory and incentive-based measures:

  • Direct payments will be conditional on enhanced environmental and climate requirements.
  • Each member state will have to offer eco-schemes to support farmers in going beyond the mandatory requirements, funded with a share of their national direct payments' allocations.
  • At least 30% of each rural development national allocation will be dedicated to environmental and climate measures.
  • 40% of the CAP's overall budget is expected to contribute to climate action.
  • In addition to the possibility to transfer 15% between pillars, member states will also have the possibility to transfer an additional 15% from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 for spending on climate and environment measures (without national co-financing).
  • 4. Greater use of knowledge and innovation: The CAP will include a budget of €10bn from the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme set aside for research and innovation projects in food, agriculture, rural development and bioeconomy.

    Member states will be encouraged to use big data and new technologies for controls and monitoring (for example, verifying farm sizes for direct payment claims using satellite data).

    Countries must also step up the digitisation of rural life, for example through extending broadband access in rural regions.

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    Listen: "The looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor"
    Former rugby international Tony Buckley speaks about his fears for the farm community as fodder concerns grow, at a forum at Cappamore Show.

    A large crowd of over 100 people came to hear former rugby international Tony Buckley speak about his troubles with depression at a specially organised forum on mental health and fodder at Cappamore Show on Saturday 18 August.

    Buckley spoke frankly about his own issues with mental health even at the height of his rugby career and urged farmers to ask for health if they felt they were struggling to cope.

    “I think the looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor for people,” Buckley said.

    “You can say you’ll be grand, I’ll be fine, I’m not soft, but once a major stressor hits you won’t get away from it.”

    “When push came to shove I had to confide in a doctor and since the day I opened up to him everything has turned around.”

    Buckley spoke about “bottling up” emotions and highlighted the fact that it can often be harder for men to admit that they have a mental health problem and ask for help.

    “If you are struggling go to your GP, they won’t judge you they’ll just help you as a person and it’s confidential.”

    He also emphasised the need for more support for mental health services and openly criticised the current lack of funding in facilities in Ireland.

    “Every year in Ireland you’ve 520 suicides and that every year you’ve 520 families devastated by loss,” Buckley said.

    Stigma

    The panel of speakers at the event also included Minister Michael Creed, Dairygold Co-op CEO Jim Woulfe, IFA president Joe Healy and Teagasc director Gerry Boyle.

    Minister Creed said that while him and his Department “could not fix the weather” they were working with the European Commission on ensuring a number of flexibilities were secured for farmers around schemes.

    It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health

    He also urged farmers to take stock if they were struggling and not be afraid to ask for help if they were struggling physically or mentally.

    “A farmer’s first duty of care is to himself,” Minister Creed said.

    “It’s been a difficult year, we had a long winter with a late spring and only about six weeks of normality and the last two months of virtual drought.”

    “It is really important that we remove the stigma around mental health.”

    Jim Woulfe and Gerry Boyle urged farmers to make use of facilities to undertake a fodder budget, with Woulfe assuring farmers worried about finances or credit that they would be catered for by the co-op.

    President of the IFA Joe Healy, while welcoming the recent fertiliser and slurry spreading extension, called on Minister Creed to understand that it was not just a fodder but a financial crisis.

    He stated that a fodder import scheme and low-cost loans needed to be rolled out as soon as possible.

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    Gardaí investigating fire in Galway which destroyed 300 bales
    The shed was set on fire on the evening of 16 August in Corrandulla in Galway.

    Gardaí are investigating after a shed with 300 bales of hay was set on fire in Corrandulla, Co Galway, on 16 August.

    The incident happened in the evening time and gardaí are investigating it as an incident of criminal damage by fire.

    A number of fire brigade units attended the fire and brought the blaze under control.

    Enquiries are continuing into the fire, a Garda spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

    Anyone with information about the fire has been asked to contact Loughgeorge or Millstreet garda stations at 091-538 000.

    In pictures: From 1988 to 2018 - Iveragh Mart celebrates 30 years
    Iveragh Mart started out in the 1980s from a seed planted by young farmers on Valentina Island. This week it celebrated the 30th anniversary of its opening.

    A crowd of over 400 people gathered at Iveragh Co-op Mart in Caherciveen to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its opening.

    Mike Kissane has managed the mart since it opened and he gave a brief run-down of the mart's history: “It’s mainly due to some young farmers on Valentina Island who planted the seed. A group came together in the early 1980s and in 1983 they canvassed local farmers and business people selling shares at £100. They raised £50,000 in a week.

    Mike Kissane, manager of Iveragh Co-op Mart, Caherciveen, with staff Helen Kissane, Emily Ahern, Noreen O'Mahony and Bernie O'Sullivan.

    Three years later they purchased a 12-acre sight outside of Caherciveen for £28,000. A lot of work was done by Maurice Colbert, ICOS mart secretary at the time, and John O'Donoghue TD."

    Share drive

    This enabled them to access funding from the Department of Agriculture and the European agricultural fund. A second share drive took place in 1988 and there are now around 400 shareholders.

    At the 30th anniversary of Iveragh Co-operative Mart in Caherciveen were Michael Riordan, Breda Moore, Mel Moore, Mary Adair, mart chair Nially O'Shea, Padraig Brennan, David Brennan.

    When questioned abut the highs and lows of the mart, Mike said: “Having to close because of foot and mouth back in 2001 was the lowest point, while reopening was definitely a high. Dealing with BSE was tough too, I’ll remember that for a while.”

    He addded: “Location is our biggest disadvantage. It’s at least an hour drive to access a decent road network. That adds cost to haulage. But we always have buyers from the midlands coming down. They see that we are surrounded by mountains and sea, but they’re gobsmacked when they see the quality of the cattle.”

    Owner of the champion male weanling at the Iveragh Co-operative Mart's 30th anniversary show and sale was Michael Townes from Valentia island. He is seen here receiving his prize from mart chair Nially O'Shea and sponsor Tomas Lester from Southern Milling.

    Achievement

    Nially O'Shea, mart chair, said of the mart's 30 years in business “is a mighty achievement. The greatest improvement we’ve seen here over the years is the quality of the stock and it’s all down to breeding. We brought out a scheme here in 2001 to give loans to farmers to buy pedigree stock bulls and that was a great success. That has been extended to breeding heifers and ewes in recent years”.

    John O'Shea, Foilmore, with his champion weanling heifer, receives his prize from mart chair Nially O'Shea and sponsor Tomas Lester from Southern Milling. John's daughter, Celine, is the Kerry Rose in this year's Rose of Tralee.

    He also commented on the age profile within the industry: “The rising age profile of farmers is a challenge here, but that’s the same for every mart.”

    Colm Mangan, Dromid, owner of the best pen of ewe lambs receiving his prize from mart chair Nially O'Shea at the 30th anniversary show and sale at Iveragh Co-operative Mart, Caherciveen.

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