The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has reiterated its call for the full flattening of farm payments in Ireland after a minimum rate of 85% was agreed at CAP talks.
INHFA president Colm O’Donnell said: “It is now time for the minister to bite the bullet and get convergence done.”
O’Donnell said the disparity in direct payments had undermined farmer solidarity and created mistrust amongst farmers. This had in turn weakened farmers’ lobbying power.
“Full convergence will help support all farmers and prove that support through the CAP is not just for large commercial operations,” he said.
O’Donnell said CAP had shifted and farmers payments were now based on meeting cross compliance rules, and not on what was produced 20 years ago. With these conditions the same for all farmers, he said it was entirely reasonable that the payment rate per hectare should also be the same.
INHFA figures show 73,000 farmers, or 60% of those receiving a direct payment, would gain under convergence.
“This will provide invaluable support to many of our smaller family farm units that the CAP is designed to protect. In doing this, we will also support local business and the local community,” he said.
O’Donnell insisted that smaller farms with high value entitlements could be protected from the negative effects of convergence through the front-loading of payments. The deal agreed last week dictates that countries must redistribute 10% of payments.
The Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) allows countries to offer top-up payments on the first hectares of a farm.
O’Donnell said this would allow payments be redirected from those in receipt of very high payments, above €60,000. While this will provide some of the funding, the remainder will be sourced from a linear cut to all direct payments.
O’Donnell called on the minister “to act in the best interest of Irish farmers” and ensure full convergence by the end of the next CAP.