Macra na Feirme is seeking a “robust” definition of an active farmer in the next CAP.
In its CAP strategic plan submission, it said the definition should be someone who farms the land, whether that be part-time or full-time.
The definition should include a minimum agricultural activity, whether that be a minimum stocking rate or minimum threshold of a crop planted and harvested per year.
It said that feedback from Macra members was received that the current proposal of 0.15LU/ha is not sufficient.
It called for this level to be doubled to ensure active farmers are receiving support.
It also said large corporations, airports, waterworks, real estate services, railway services and permanent sport and recreational grounds should be included on a negative list of those who cannot qualify for payments.
On eco schemes, Macra said there is an unresolved issue surrounding the separation of eco-scheme payments from entitlement payments.
“The eco-scheme payment must follow the farmer, not the entitlement. We recognise there may not be a legal framework to allow this to happen, but every effort must be made so the active farmer receives and retains the eco-scheme payment.
“There is an important role for the Department of Agriculture in communicating that the farmer incurring the cost is receiving the payment support under eco scheme, not the entitlement owner,” it said in its submission.
It also called for further measures to be included, such as an integrated hedgerow management measure, an increased days at pasture measure, an improved soil sampling measure and a milk recording scheme.
Macra believes that capping should be revisited and all labour costs, including the farmers’ own labour value and family labour, are deducted as permitted by EU legislation.
It said leased-in entitlements should also be exempted in the capping calculation where these payments are returning to the owner of the entitlements.
If not accounted for, it said that a situation will arise that the entitlement value of the landowner will drop as a result of long-term leasing arrangements with an active farmer.
Beef finisher payment
There is precedence for a beef finisher payment, Macra has said, with the introduction of beef finisher payment in 2020 to provide income support to farmers with beef finishing enterprises who were impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It called for such a payment to be stepped:
It also wants an increased TAMS grant of 80% for young farmers and wants consideration given for young farmers to have priority access to the new agri-environment climate measure.