Greening “was a very cynical effort to protect high historic payments on the last CAP, which never should have been allowed”, Henry O’Donnell of the INHFA told a meeting last week in Donegal.

“You had two farmers complying with the same regulations and one farmer getting paid four times the amount of the other farmer. We can’t have that,” he said.

Former INHFA president Colm O’Donnell said the last CAP reform resulted in variable greening.

“Some farmers got €30/ha for Greening and others got up to €300/ha, for carrying out the same measure, which was the retention of permanent grassland.

“Even currently, one is getting four times more than another for the same measure. It’s important that we have a level playing field here,” he said.

Minister McConalogue said that Greening up to 30% in the current CAP “didn’t really mean anything from a grassland farmer point of view because you automatically qualified for Greening if you were a grassland farmer”.

The eco scheme has changed this, he said, adding that in order to ensure that you get the payment back, you have to join eco schemes.

He said he hopes to keep compliance costs to a minimum and confirmed he is looking at other measures to add to the suite of options for farmers. The INHFA told the minister that he must “hold firm” on the current CAP plan and 25% eco schemes.