Just over 60% of the farmers surveyed in the Irish Examiner ICMSA farming survey are satisfied with the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) — despite its complexities.
Given that the scheme only came into effect this year, the satisfaction level is surprisingly high.
Normally a few years is required for farmers to adapt to such a major new scheme, but 10% are “very satisfied” and 52% are “satisfied”.
The results are fairly conclusive, with only 14% “don’t knows”; 13% said they were “dissatisfied”, and 10% “very dissatisfied” with the Basic Payment Scheme.
It was promised that this replacement for the Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme would reduce red tape and errors.
Nevertheless, it is very complex, with new concepts such as ‘greening’, young farmer top ups etc.
It can be assumed the high satisfaction level is not due to reduced red tape.
It must be in part due to the effort made by Teagasc advisors, media, and the Department of Agriculture to explain the new scheme to farmers.
Or the 62% satisfaction can be interpreted as a vote for convergence, the process by which farmers who had low value SFP entitlements will see a gradual increase in the value of their BPS entitlements, up to 2019.
This is designed to ensure a fairer distribution of CAP payments.
Levels of satisfaction with the new suckler scheme (the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, or BDGP) surveyed are less conclusive, because of the 34% “don’t know” response.
High “don’t know” responses for four other new schemes show that farmers need time to get used to them, and to fully understand the requirements.
This time next year, it will be interesting to see how the levels of satisfaction with these important schemes change.
Dissatisfaction is marginally highest for the BDGP of all the new schemes, with 15% “very dissatisfied” and 13% “dissatisfied”.
Nevertheless, 33% “satisfied” and 5% “very satisfied” is satisfactory for a scheme in which participants only received Euro-star reports for their suckler herds in the last few weeks, and are only now getting to grips with scheme requirements.
However, the Greening scheme which runs alongside the new BPS left farmers in the survey less satisfied.
Understandably, there is a high number of don’t knows (44%) because it was only introduced this year, and farmers need time to assess it.
Nevertheless, 31% are “satisfied” and 6% “very satisfied” with greening; 11% are “dissatisfied” and 9% “very dissatisfied” with greening.
Some dissatisfaction can be attributed to tillage farmers forced by greening to sow a number of different crops that they may not normally sow, plus some cropping area restrictions.
Asked for their satisfaction rating of the new GLAS agri-environmental scheme, a big 41% of surveyed farmers responded “don’t know”; 30% were “satisfied”, 7% “very satisfied”, 11% “dissatisfied”, and 12% “very dissatisfied”.
Applicants in the first GLAS tranche have yet to find out if they have been accepted, and what payment they will get — hence the don’t knows.
Of all the new schemes farmers were asked about, the satisfaction rating was lowest for the Knowledge Transfer Scheme; however, it must be noted that half of those surveyed answered ‘don’t know’.
No surprise there, given that facilitators are only now forming groups for this new discussion group scheme.
With farmers only aware of the basic details of the scheme yet, the Department of Agriculture can be happy enough with the 28% “satisfied” and 4% “very satisfied” results; 9% were “dissatisfied”, and 8% “very dissatisfied”.
TAMS satisfaction ratings in the survey must also be taken with a pinch of salt, due to a 45% “don’t know” result indicating unfamiliarity with this farm modernisation grant scheme phased in over the summer, as the survey was being carried out.
The 10% “dissatisfied”, and 10% “very dissatisfied” are likely to be tillage farmers, angry that infrastructure and technology grants were not included in TAMS, or sheep farmers disappointed because grants for sheep fencing are not available.
Still, 30% of surveyed farmers are “satisfied” with TAMS, and 5% “very satisfied”.
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