There are 10,511 farmers across the country who are claiming CAP payments but – on paper – have no agricultural activity and will have to prove they are actively farming in the next CAP, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.
These farmers submitted a Basic Payment Scheme application in 2021 but have no visible agricultural activity, based on cross checks with the livestock databases operated by the Department of Agriculture.
This will have serious implications for them in the next CAP, because they would not meet the proposed definition of an “active farmer” for claiming.
“However, it is important to outline that some are likely to be carrying out other agricultural activities such as selling hay or silage or may have other grazing livestock, for example equines,” a Department of Agriculture spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.
Of the 10,511 farmers, 8,565 currently hold BPS entitlements. The total payment to this cohort of farmers is in the region of €32m in BPS and greening payments. The average payment is €3,700.
In total, these farmers are claiming payments on 143,397ha, with an average claim of 13.64ha.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at a recent INHFA meeting, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said these farmers are not “showing any obvious farming activity on their land” and they “weren’t showing obvious practice”.
The coming CAP will be a “problem for those that have been doing nothing”, he said, adding that these farmers will need to prove they are farming the land or they won’t get any payment.
Under the definition of an active farmer in the next CAP, farmers will have to show they are actively farming.
“Farmers must show that the land is being actively farmed in order to get a payment. The threshold for that is the 0.15LU/ha, it’s set at the same level as ANC. The key point is there must be evidence that you’re actively farming.
“Anyone that’s getting a payment in Pillar I this time around must show evidence that they are actually farming,” he said.
For farmers who do not keep livestock but have some other agricultural activity such as making and selling silage or hay, they will need to prove this to the Department, for example by providing invoices for the sale and receipts for inputs such as fertiliser.
The minister is also cracking down on armchair farmers and said he is looking at the options as “to how we deal with leasing side of entitlements”.
He said he wants to “put in place practices that ensure that it’s the farmer that is doing the farming on the land that is benefiting at much as possible from the payment”.