The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue was told on Friday night that it is vital that he holds firm and delivers on the plan that is outlined for Pillar I payments in the next CAP.
Henry O’Donnell of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) told the minister at an INHFA CAP information meeting in Ballybofey that eco schemes have to be maintained at 25% of direct payments.
“The eco schemes, it has to be maintained at 25% of Pillar I to deliver that €63/ha for every farmer. We can’t have any dilution of that in any shape or form. It’s a key objective for us to replace variable greening,” O’Donnell said.
Protecting high payments
In the reforms that were made for the current CAP, O’Donnell said that greening “was a very cynical effort to protect high historic payments on the last CAP, which never should have been allowed”.
“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.
O’Donnell said that there cannot be any movement from the 85% convergence.
“We would like more but we are quite happy that we have got it this far,” he told the 60 farmers and minister at the meeting.
“The front-loaded payment, which is 10% of Pillar I, delivering a payment of €43/ha on the first 30ha, this is really important as a support to smaller farmers and it definitely needs to be retained in the new CAP and hopefully even improved in future CAPs.
“It’s a red line issue for us,” O’Donnell said.
Minister McConalogue said that “in relation to eco schemes, I set that at 25% and a key objective I also have and I am still working on, is ensuring there will be eco schemes available to everyone, of all farm types where compliance costs kept to a minimum to ensure that money can get back to farmers,” he said.
He said that he was working on other measures outside of the five measures on the table for eco schemes.
“I am looking at further options. The current five would be quite strong for many Donegal farmers,” he said.
For more on the meeting, see next week’s Irish Farmers Journal.