‘The Government must support productive beef, sheep and tillage farmers’
IFA president Tim Cullinan said the CAP proposals ratified will potentially devastate the incomes of a cohort of Irish farmers and called on Government to step up to the plate and support productive farmers.
He said: “While some of the flexibilities that have been worked into the detailed text on eco schemes and redistribution may help to reduce the impact, the reform will still be severe on drystock and tillage farmers who worked hard to build up strong per-hectare entitlement values.
“The Government must support productive beef, sheep and tillage farmers.
“There are three ways this can be done: through national co-financing of the CAP; the rollout of the €1.5bn committed by the Government from carbon tax receipts; and from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve as our drystock sector will be hit by Brexit also,” he said.
He added that the Government needed to move quickly to bolster confidence in the drystock and tillage sectors. “These sectors need more supports, not less.”
‘CAP had effectively been hijacked and repurposed away from farming and food towards environmental stewardship’
President of the ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the more that farmers looked at the new CAP, the more obvious it was that practically everything to do with the sector was covered in exhausting detail – except income.
“The agreement is an insult to Irish farm families and the Government must realise that the spin isn’t working and no-one is being fooled by platitudes about support for our family farm system,” he said. He added that “CAP had effectively been hijacked and repurposed away from farming and food towards environmental stewardship”.
“We have page after page of exhausting and minute commitment and undertaking and targets – and not a word or sentence that I could see that even pretends to concern itself with the income of the people who will be operating this system and expected to deliver on the hundreds of commitments. Farmers have become an afterthought in CAP and farmer incomes are even less important than that.”
‘Time for the minister to bite the bullet and get convergence done’
The front-loading of payments will allow member states to redirect payments from those in receipt of very high CAP payments to smaller farmers, by making additional payments to all farmers on the first number of hectares, INHFA president Colm O’Donnell said.
He called for the capping of direct payments to be set at a maximum level of €60,000 with no allowances for labour cost reductions.
“It is not credible to have a situation whereby beneficiaries can offset labour production unit costs before applying a capping to these huge amounts of money.”
O’Donnell reiterated his call for full convergence: “It is now time for the minister to bite the bullet and get convergence done.” Full convergence will “help support all farmers and prove that support through the CAP is not just for large commercial operations”, he said.
‘The truth is that the outcome will please nobody’
ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said the CAP deal cannot hide the fact that farmers are being asked to do more and more for less and less.
“The key battles around the level of convergence to even out the per hectare payments and redistribution to support smaller farmers simply reflect the fact that the budget is inadequate, and the truth is that the outcome will please nobody.
“Commissioner Wojciechowski is mistaken in his belief that the proposals on redistribution will make any significant difference to small – and medium-scale farmers.
“The grandiose vision for an EU Green Deal – of which the agri-food sector is expected to do a lot of heavy lifting – is not matched by a suitably ambitious funding mechanism. Instead, many farmers will become even less viable due to direct payment cuts and will then be expected to devote many more hours to delivering public goods in the climate change and biodiversity spheres,” he said.
Need to ‘double efforts to encourage young farmers into farming’
Macra president John Keane said the focus now shifts from Brussels to Dublin for young farmers. “It is disappointing that the EU negotiations did not deliver the sought-after 4% of Pillar I payments. However, the Irish Department of Agriculture can exceed the now agreed 3% minimum of payments for young farmers.
“Macra na Feirme have consistently called for greater funds and ambition to make positive changes and encourage greater levels of generational renewal.
“Macra na Feirme are calling on Minister Charlie McConalogue to give a commitment that the Department of Agriculture will double efforts to encourage young farmers into farming with additional young farmer supports through the Irish CAP strategic plan,” he said
‘Convergence will hit tillage farmers hardest’
The CAP deal has thrown tillage farmers under the bus, Clive Carter of the IGG said.
“Not only has there been no acknowledgement of the positive work done under Greening for the last eight years, it has penalised tillage farmers further with the old Greening measures coming under GAEC and further eco scheme measures added on. Eighty-five per cent convergence will hit tillage farmers hardest.
“I have had a number of farmers on the phone over the weekend stating that with convergence and a secondary convergence through an eco scheme, it’s not worthwhile taking up the eco scheme and better to maximise output instead,” Carter said.