As we all know at this stage, the CAP deal has been agreed in Europe and now the attention for Irish farmers has been switched to the development of the national plan that will be submitted to Brussels for approval by the end of the year.

Eighty-five percent convergence will make some farmers happy and will leave others in despair.

While I am not against taking from the rich and giving to the poor by any means, basing some rough calculations around my own situation, it would seem a farmer’s entitlements would need to be of a very low value for him or her to see an increase in their payment.

A huge change to what we are used to is the 25% being sliced off the top of direct payments in order to create a fund for eco schemes that farmers will have to apply for.

More work for same money

I know that many farmers will see this as having to do more work for the same money or maybe even less money and I suppose they wouldn’t be wrong.

Again, I am definitely not against eco schemes. While farmers are definitely being blamed for more than their fair share of climate change, we as farmers definitely do need to look at more sustainable and more environmentally friendly methods of farming.

Payments will be linked to environmental measures instead of to food production

This 25% cut from the top would seem like a hint of things to come and many would believe that this is how we will be paid in the future.

Payments will be linked to environmental measures instead of to food production.


For all of my farming career, I have tried to be as efficient and productive as possible. I have tried to adopt modern farming methods, grow as much grass as possible and stock my farm as heavily as possible to eat the grass I grew.

When I stand back and assess my farming enterprise, it is very clear the main reason I was pushing as hard as I could was to try to achieve some sort of sustainability for myself and my family. Some would say I was running to stand still.

The only way for me to make any money from my farming enterprise was to either push hard and try to be as efficient as possible or to put my direct payment in my back pocket, invest none of it back into the farm and just allow the farm to look after its self whatever way it could.

I chose option one, as the second option would inevitably allow the farm to get run down, as there realistically would be no money left to invest back into it.


I really don’t have a problem looking at more extensive ways of farming. I don’t have a problem cutting my stock numbers in half.

I would be quite happy spreading less chemical fertiliser and using less sprays.

I’m also happy to partake in any eco scheme that will actually make a difference to the environment, but what I really need from the future CAP is sustainability.

Sustainability for the environment and the planet, of course, but also sustainability for me as a small- to medium-size family suckler farm. I’ve just about had enough of working for nothing!