The percentage of direct payment funds to be set aside for eco-schemes in the next CAP remains a major sticking point in ongoing negotiations.
The European Council has settled on a figure of 20%, while the European Parliament is pushing for 30%.
Giving an update in the European Parliament on Monday, Peter Jahr, the German MEP leading the Parliament’s negotiations on the green architecture, said opinions on both sides remain “far apart”.
The Parliament could not agree to a compromise of 25% as it would be “too little”, Jahr said.
Depending on the final figure, it will make somewhere between €237m and €355m of Ireland’s €1.2bn direct payment fund contingent on farmers opting in to agri-environmental schemes.
Among the key questions that remain to be answered are what measures will be offered to farmers under eco-schemes and how will they be paid for taking part
Discussions at the Department of Agriculture’s CAP consultative committee, comprising all major stakeholders, have centred on eco-schemes in recent weeks.
The Department is concerned that a lack of experience in dealing with them combined with the fact farmers can opt in or out on an annual basis means there is a risk of unspent funds being lost.
Among the key questions that remain to be answered are what measures will be offered to farmers under eco-schemes and how will they be paid for taking part.
The CAP regulations as they stand would allow payment on a per-hectare basis, similar to Greening, or for something similar to GLAS with farmers compensated for income foregone and costs incurred.