The full flattening of farm payments remains firmly on the table at CAP negotiations as the European Parliament refuses to give ground.
MEPs backed proposals for 100% convergence, which would see farmers’ historical payments ended by 2026 and entitlements replaced with a flat rate payment per hectare.
The European Council and Commission entered talks with a more conservative approach, with all entitlements reaching 75% of the national average by 2026, up from the 60% at present.
The outcome will be significant for Irish farmers, with payments to some 54,500 farmers set to be cut to fund increases to 60,000 other farmers.
It is estimated that under a 75% convergence model, €7.5m would move between farmers annually.
Under a 100% model, this figure would more than treble, with nearly €25m moving from one group of Irish farmers to another every year.
A compromise rate of 85% by 2026 has been put forward by the Portuguese presidency of the Council.
If this scenario were adopted, the minimum entitlement value would increase from €111/ha to €154/ha, excluding Greening.
However, the European Parliament negotiators have insisted that 100% convergence is an area they are unwilling to budge on. German MEP Peter Jahr, who is overseeing its efforts, said the 85% proposal was “not ok”.
“I’ve always said that by the end of this reform we need to have put an end completely to the MacSharry reform,” Jahr told his fellow MEPs on Monday 15 March.
The MacSharry reforms of 1992 were the first to introduce the concept of entitlement-based payments.
The two sides did agree on a compromise around payments for young farmers.
Originally set at 2%, member states will now have to allocate at least 3% of their direct payment budget to young farmers.
This will create an annual fund of some €35m for top-up payments to Irish young farmers.