One of the most contentious issues to be decided as part of the next CAP is the definition of a genuine farmer and who is entitled to CAP supports.

It was a topic repeatedly raised at an Oireachtas agriculture meeting with farm organisations and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.

Farm organisations were asked their views on defining a genuine farmer.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “Regarding the genuine farmer, it is very clear and absolutely essential that this CAP reform ensures money goes to the people doing the work and who are out ploughing the fields. That is paramount.”


ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the person working the land and doing so in a meaningful fashion needed to be defined as a genuine farmer.

“When I started out in farming, 20-something years ago, there was the armchair farmer who was effectively a milk quota holder.

“We now see entitlement holders becoming armchair farmers. That is not sustainable for the commercial or active farmer, or the genuine farmer,” McCormack said.


ICSA president Dermot Kelleher said a genuine farmer was the person who was working and producing.

"Those who can sit at home and do not need to put on their wellies and go out to do work should not be getting money," Kelleher said.

"There are fellows out there who can lease their land and entitlements and sit back. They should not be getting a lot of CAP money."

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said how an active farmer was defined would be the most divisive element of the new CAP.

“Addressing the issue of retired farmers in their 70s, 80s and 90s claiming single farm payments back through land leasing is going to be one of the key factors in determining how we can make progress and manage the whole system,” he said.

“There will be significant pain for everyone. That is probably the thorniest issue we will deal with.”


Cullinan said he did not like the term armchair farmers.

“If a farmer is at the point in his or her life where he or she decides not to farm any longer and to lease out his or her entitlements, and if that continues on an ongoing basis, we have to look at that,” he said.

“People have worked hard to earn those entitlements, but there needs to be a trading system whereby the farmer could sell those entitlements. The money received for the sale of those entitlements would have to be tax-free.”


Senior Department of Agriculture official Paul Savage said there was full agreement on the need for a definition of a genuine farmer.

“The challenge is to try to set that in a way that is meaningful and that allows us to make payments in an accurate and proper way,” Savage said.