The payment method for eco schemes and the nature of how the scheme will work is not yet clear, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.
Minister McConalogue told the Dáil it was not clear whether payments would be on a per-hectare basis additional to the basic payment or on the basis of cost incurred or income foregone.
Responding to a question from Independent TD Marian Harkin, he confirmed that the payment would be applied at a flat rate based on a farmer's compliance.
Haggling continues at EU level about the percentage of direct payment funds to be ring-fenced for eco schemes, with negotiators divided between a 20% and 30% figure.
Final talks are slated for 25 and 26 May 2021 and the outcome will determine what portion of a farmer’s entitlement will be severed to fund eco schemes.
“The eco schemes are independent of the payment entitlement value,” the Minister said.
In the next CAP, the allocation for eco schemes and young farmers will be deducted from Ireland’s €1.2bn direct payment budget.
The remainder will form the basic income support for sustainability (BISS), which will replace the BPS.
“Payment entitlement values are assigned from that. After values are assigned, and the average value is determined, convergence can be applied to the entitlement values from that point forward,” Minister McConalogue explained.
The current average Irish entitlement value is €260/ha. If eco schemes are allocated 25% of direct payment funds, this average will fall to €200/ha.
The rate of convergence also remains undecided, but looks set to fall at 85%.
Harkin questioned the Minister as to why recent Department of Agriculture convergence modelling had excluded eco schemes from the calculation.
“That piece of research was to establish what the value of the entitlement would be. That is what the figures that were set out showed,” Minister McConalogue explained.
“The value of the entitlement is going to exclude the eco scheme payment, which will be extracted from the entitlement value in the first place.”