Lowering of cap on payments is bad news for larger farmers

This week’s programme for government brought bad news for hundreds of farmers who get an annual subsidy of more than €100,000 from the EU.

In the mid-term review of the CAP, the government will propose a lowering of the cap on basic payments from €150,000 to €100,000.

If approved, the 243 farmers who shared €32m in 2011 (averaging c€130,000 each) will lose out.

Protecting the overall CAP payments is a cornerstone of the new programme for government, which cites farming as the heartbeat of rural economy.

One of the first actions committed to by the new government and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed will be a full mid-term review of the €52m 2015-2020 Beef Data and Genomics Programme for suckler beef farmers.

On simplification of the farm payments inspection system, the government will table amendments at EU level to make a proposed ‘yellow card system’ workable in Ireland.

The programme confirms an EU rural development financial measure will be evaluated as a source of cheaper credit.

TAMS grants for farmers are to include mats for slatted sheds; rainwater harvesting systems; and drain clearing, subject to EU approval.

Farmers have welcomed commitments to increase funding for disadvantaged area payments by €25million in Budget 2018, and to seek EU permission for a new sheep subsidy scheme, with €25 million of funding in Budget 2017, if approved.

The government will seek recognition from the European Commission for ‘forgotten farmers’ as a group to be compensated for specific disadvantage, under the National Reserve, in the same way that ‘Old Young Farmers’ are currently provided for.

This will include farmers under the age of 40, who do not currently meet the five-year rule, and who did not receive Young Farmers Installation Aid.

Payments in the fodder aid scheme and hardship scheme for farmers in very difficult circumstances after flooding is to be finalised without undue delay.

In consultation with the Road Safety Authority and the Irish Road Hauliers Association, the government will raise the restriction on hauling cattle without tachographs from 50 kilometres to 100 kilometres.

The programme combines ambitious Foodwise 2025 Expansion plans with designing and delivering a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy for Irish agriculture and the broader food industry.

By 2025, Foodwise 2025 aims to increase food and drink exports 85%, to €19bn; increase value added 70% to €13bn; increase primary production 65% to almost €10bn; and create a further 23,000 jobs in the agri-food sector.

The plans include development of beef producer organisations to ensure farmers are not just price takers; strategic taxation changes to support farm incomes and land mobility; and prioritising and developing new live export opportunities.

The Farm Assist Scheme for low-income farmers is to be reviewed, and a priority for the new Government will be to safeguard Ireland’s defensive and offensive interests in any future international trade negotiations (such as a potential Mercosur deal).


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