Farmers to be guaranteed minimum payment under CAP reform

Farmers to be guaranteed minimum payment under CAP reform
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney

Farmers are to be guaranteed a minimum payment under a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed in Luxembourg.

Agriculture minister Simon Coveney told reporters this morning a compromise has been reached, meaning that €100m of the €1.2bn paid to Irish farmers will be redistributed.

Minister Coveney says there are safeguards in the deal to prevent larger farmers losing too much, with agreement that current payments cannot be cut by more than 28%.

Speaking in Luxembourg, he said more people will gain than will lose.

"That means an average loss, for the farmers who are losing, of between 11 and 12%, and an average gain of around 35% for the farmers that are gaining," Minister Coveney said.

"And there will be more gainers than losers - about 60,000 gaining and about 50,000 losing.

"We think that this is a good middle ground position, and I would strongly defend it," he added.

"I would be surprised if the farming organisations didn't support it as well."

However the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) said that, despite the progress made, tens of thousands of family farms will lose under this agreement and some farmers will be challenged to retain their production and viability.

Speaking from Luxembourg, IFA President John Bryan said "50,000 of our most productive farmers will lose between 15% and 35% of their overall payment by 2019, which will have a serious impact on farm incomes and viability. Any cuts must be imposed over the longest timeframe possible".

In relation to funds available for redistribution, Mr. Bryan said objective criteria should be used to ensure active farmers with low payments are prioritised, "There is no justification for taking money off productive farmers to redistribute to non-active farmers" he added.

Mr. Bryan said there is still a lot to be agreed before any deal is finalised and a full analysis of the implications and options available will have to be carried out before it is implemented.

While the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) say the outline agreement represents some progress.

The President of ICMSA, John Comer, said the announcement "did undoubtedly represent progress on the previous more radical models of direct payment redistribution". But he added that it was impossible to ignore the fact "that payments will be diverted from the state's most active and productive farmers and that this change was demonstrably against the development of the agri-food sector and, therefore, the national interest".

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