The Government agreed at Cabinet on Tuesday to submit Ireland’s draft CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) to the European Commission by the deadline of 1 January 2022, as is provided for in EU regulations.
Speaking following the meeting, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said the CAP is a farmer-friendly and fair, which will offer confidence and clarity around our farm payments over the coming years.
“This will be an important milestone in the development of the plan, but it will not be the final step. Further detailed engagement will take place with the European Commission in the first half of 2022, and the approval process is likely to last between six and nine months, with the plan coming into effect on 1 January 2023,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture is now putting the final technical arrangements in place for the submission of the plan to the European Commission.
“Engagement from stakeholders, including visiting 27 marts in every county in the country, has been vital in getting the draft CAP Strategic Plan to this point, and in ensuring that we meet the twin objectives of ensuring the continued viability of our productive farmers and maximising the environmental sustainability of the sector.
“I have engaged and listened intently to stakeholder feedback and I have now responded - for example, through the expanded range of agricultural practices that can be implemented under the new eco scheme, which will ensure access for all farmers, and through the ambition that we have shown in the proposed Pillar II agri-environment and climate scheme. I have also sought to deliver a fair approach to the redistribution of Pillar I payments while complying with the requirements of the CAP reform agreement and the ensuing EU legislation,” he said.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said that the proposed CAP plan signed off on does not strike the right balance between environmental, economic and social sustainability.
“The plan will hit a cohort of our most productive farmers who will see a devastating cut in their basic payment. Many beef, sheep and tillage farmers who do not have off-farm income will find it very difficult to achieve viability.
“The CAP results in money being redistributed among farmers through convergence, Complimentary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) and eco schemes. It is very complex and many farmers will be in for a big shock when they see the cut in their basic payment in 2023,” he said.
He said the minister could have put more funding into programmes to support beef, sheep and tillage farmers, but decided not to.
“The minister himself negotiated flexibility at EU level to reduce this percentage below 25% for countries with a higher environmental spend under Pillar II of the programme. Ireland easily qualifies for this, but the minister chose not to reduce the percentage, despite the fact that many other countries will do so.
“We would have preferred more of this funding to be left within the basic payment, where farmers still have to comply with good agricultural and environmental practices.
“Overall, the plan will put more costs on farmers at a time when huge cost increases for energy, feed and fertiliser are already hitting them,” he said.