Ireland’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan 2023-2027 was approved by the Irish Government on Tuesday. This follows the plan receiving approval from the EU Commission in August and paves the way for the implementation of the new programme and key schemes, which are due to start from 1 January 2023 onwards.
The final full CAP Strategic Plan has not yet been published on the Department website, but this is expected imminently.
The Department has published a booklet focusing on the key changes farmers will see under the new CAP and the timelines for the opening of new schemes.
This is detailed in Table 1, along with the relevant Department contact details.
There are numerous changes on the horizon, with the largest coming in direct payment schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme. This will be known as the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), but all payment entitlements will have a significantly different value than their current level.
Some 25% of direct payments will be used to fund the Eco Scheme. The Department predicts that this will be paid at a rate of between €70/ha and €80/ha (depending on the level of participation) and it will be paid on a hectare of eligible land rather than on an entitlement.
Another 10% of the direct payment fund will be allocated to funding the Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS), or what is often known as frontloading.
This is expected to be paid at a rate of €43/ha and again is not linked to entitlements. It will be paid on 30ha maximum, meaning some farmers will contribute significantly to fund the measure, while others will benefit.
The Complementary Income Support for Young Farmers (CIS-YF) will replace the young farmers scheme. Payments are again no longer based on entitlements and will be paid on a maximum 50ha of eligible lands and the expected payment is €180/ha.
Getting back to BISS, payments will continue to be based on entitlement values, with one eligible hectare required for each entitlement. The rate of convergence is being increased from 60% to 85%, meaning that low value entitlements will be at least 85% of the national average value, estimated at €158 per entitlement, at the end of the next CAP, while those with higher value entitlements face a significant reduction in value.
Applicants will need to satisfy an ‘active farmer’ status, which will be based primarily on stocking rate but will also take into account the production of crops and maintenance of landscape features.
There is a significant change to land eligibility, with a parcel of land now permitted to have 50% of what the Department describes as ‘beneficial features’ without impacting on the eligible area.
Examples of this include trees and scrub and this will be revisited next week. This was initially included at 30%, but has been revised upwards since the draft CAP plan was submitted.
Transfer of entitlements
The transfer of entitlements will continue to operate as normal and entitlements currently held via a lease will remain under your herd for the duration of the lease.
This is an area that will generate plenty of headaches for many farmers, with the value of entitlements changing to varying degrees and is likely to require many leases to be reviewed.
The sale of entitlements without land will not be subject to clawback in 2023 or 2024 and 20% clawback will apply from 2025 to 2027.
Young farmers aged no more than 40 years of age (at any time during the calendar year they apply) and new farmers defined as “farmers that have set up a holding for the first time in their lives and within the past three years” will be able to apply to the national reserve for a maximum allocation of 50 payment entitlements at the national average rate.
The other significant new element surrounds conditionality and the ‘space for nature’ concept. Conditionality replaces cross compliance and one requirement includes farmers to possess at least 4% space for nature, which is essentially areas promoting biodiversity.
Reports indicate the majority of farmers are already achieving the 4% target with significant numbers also possessing enough space for nature to satisfy eco scheme requirements.
This was also discussed in detail in recent weeks and can be found at www.farmersjournal.ie.
The Department has a number of online tools available, including a CAP calculator to determine how your entitlement values will change over the duration of the next CAP.
There are also stocking rate changes to be mindful of, which has been covered in detail on this page in recent weeks. See http://www.gov.ie/CAP for more information.
In next week’s paper, we will take a closer look at what the land eligibility rule change means and tease out some of the main elements from the new area-based, livestock and other schemes contained in the new CAP.
As can be seen in the table, there are three schemes already open for applications or opening imminently.
These include the producer organisation scheme for fruit and vegetable growers and the well documented Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) and the Organic Farming Scheme.