The most overused phrase for 2021 has to be “direction of travel”. It’s the go-to term being used when framing CAP changes.
Tuesday night’s first “town hall” CAP meeting heard the phrase a number of times, but it’s fair to say that it was appropriate.
As the dust settles, the direction of travel is as clear as the bright blue sky on a sunny summer’s day.
CRISS, more commonly known as frontloading, is a relatively new term, but it turns out it’s the bus driver as we proceed down this new road. I’ve heard CRISS described as “turbo-charged convergence” and it certainly has the ability to move money very fast. The Department of Agriculture’s modelling, released last Friday, shows how CRISS will dramatically change payment levels in 2023, the first year of the new system.
What the modelling doesn’t show is how payments for different farms with different sizes and different entitlement values might look by 2026. And perhaps that is to shield the full combined effect of the three instruments that combine to form the compass for the direction of travel.
Adding the cumulative effect of convergence over the years 2024 to 2026 shows that for a 40ha farm with high payments, the direction of travel is almost due south.
This gave the impression that the Department wants to collect everyone’s views, but does not want a debate
The other phrase heard during Tuesday’s meeting was “we want to hear your views”. Various Department officials, and particularly the meeting’s host Paul Savage, Department of Agriculture assistant secretary general, repeated the message. Farmers were enraged that this “hearing” involved no dialogue, seemingly due to the webinar format of the meeting. Neither could farmers see questions and comments from those attending.
This gave the impression that the Department wants to collect everyone’s views, but does not want a debate.
An email address was circulated to attendees afterwards for comments. It was frankly embarrassing that farmers who replied received a bounceback informing them that the person was on annual leave. In fairness, the Department reacted to criticism by introducing a facility where farmers can read out questions and comments submitted through a chat function, and the bounced back emails were being read or transferred on.
Eamon Ryan declined the opportunity to call for a cut in cattle numbers when reacting to the IPCC climate change report
The outrage farmers are expressing about the cap on cow numbers proposed for the new suckler scheme may not have been heard on Tuesday, but it will be somewhere soon.
The “direction of travel” of the national herd, sucklers and dairy combined, will continue to be a hot topic.
Eamon Ryan declined the opportunity to call for a cut in cattle numbers when reacting to the IPCC climate change report on Monday. Does he actually believe farming can reduce its carbon footprint through multispecies swards? Or is he holding fire, knowing the sectoral targets will do the dirty work of cattle culling for him and the Government? Watch this space.