“Convergence or flattening of payments is moving forward, with current proposals to set convergence at 85%, at least, of the national average, to give a fairer distribution of payments to all farmers.
“It is disappointing that the Irish position is still at 75% of the national average, given the fact that the majority of farmers would benefit from further convergence of payments. The unfair system of variable greening in the 2013 reform, in which farmers were paid different rates of payment for complying with the same regulations, is being replaced with an eco-scheme payment.
“It is vital to ensure that the eco-schemes will be paid at an equal rate to all farmers who comply with the regulation.”
“The Commission seems to be pushing 75% convergence whereas the European Parliament proposed 100% convergence. What is the Minister’s stance on this? I am unsure.
“Representatives from farming organisations have informed me that the minister and his officials have a position that they are pushing the minimum convergence, and for member states to have a greater function in setting the levels. Either the minister does not have a position, or he does and he is not willing to make it known. Either way, there is no scrutiny.”
“In principle, convergence is a great idea but it should not be used in agriculture. Where it should be tested is in the civil service and I would urge the minister to introduce a pilot scheme in the Department of Agriculture.
“When that is piloted in the civil service and accepted by civil servants, then maybe it will be time to try it in agriculture.
“There is no other sector in this country that would be asked to move money from the top to the bottom and be expected to accept it.
“Our teachers would not accept it, nor would our nurses or other medical staff but our very own Department of Agriculture thinks that the farmers of Ireland, using our natural resources to the best of their ability, should accept convergence.
“I can assure the minister that if the pilot scheme on convergence goes ahead in the Department, it will be the end of the idea in the agricultural sector.
“What is required in the next CAP is not another attack on Irish family farms but a guarantee that we will support our farmers to continue to deliver for rural Ireland, the Irish economy and the environment.
“As well as honesty and an upfront and determined attitude, we need a fair CAP.
“The minister has yet to give the commitment that he will undo the gross inequality at the heart of the Common Agricultural Policy that allows people like Larry Goodman to draw down €500,000 per year while farmers in the minister’s constituency are struggling to make ends meet on pittances.”