There is a huge disparity around the country in the farm output per euro of direct supports, exclusive Irish Farmers Journal research can reveal.
Dublin and Monaghan are way clear, at €8.61 and €8.55 of output for every euro of direct payment.
The dominance of fruit and vegetables in Dublin and the heavy presence of pig and poultry farms in Monaghan may explain this dynamic, as these sectors never received coupled payments.
After that comes the dairy intensive counties of Waterford, Cork and Limerick. Next up is Kilkenny and Wexford, mixing dairy and tillage.
Cavan, Tipperary, and Louth, complete the top 10 counties.
In contrast, Leitrim generates just €1.86 output per euro of direct payments, four and a half times less than Dublin.
Connacht counties, plus Donegal and Clare, Wicklow, Longford and Kildare complete the 10 counties at the lower end of the scale.
The analysis shows that the uncoupling of farm supports from production was already significantly underway in 2020.
Remember, this analysis relates only to pillar one payments – the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) plus the linked Greening payment. It does not include Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments or Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS) payments.
It simply examines the payments, which prior to 2002 were production supports, in the form of suckler cow, special beef and slaughter premia for cattle, ewe premia and area aid for cereals.
Dairy farmers and sugar beet growers received top-ups when the quota regimes in those sectors were dismantled. Significantly, vegetable, fruit, pig and poultry farmers recieved no direct payment supports.
The new CAP, which takes effect in four months time, will turbocharge the breaking of old links between output and direct payments.
The combination of BISS (the new BPS), CRISS (front-loading), eco-schemes and convergence will see higher payments generated by high-output farms cut by up to a further 30%.
The big question is, if higher output farms come under economic pressure due to very high production costs, will the lack of direct payment support cause a change in behavior? Without the buttress of a linked payment to support production, could output drop off if high costs were accompanied by poor prices?
This is not an issue confined to Ireland – EU farm supports all across western Europe have been transitioning in a similar manner.
This analysis by the Irish Farmers Journal was carried out by comparing the Central Statistics Office (CSO) 2020 average farm output data per county to the average payment per county under the CAP beneficiaries database.