BPS and CAP payments: How much is too much?

The introduction of a €60,000 ceiling for payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) has been called for by Fianna Fail.

Fianna Fail’s Agriculture and Food Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, has confirmed that his party will seek the reduction of the current BPS payment ceiling to €60,000.

“The current BPS structure needs immediate change following the publication of CAP payments, where a number of individuals – some very high-profile – are receiving payments of up to €500,000.

“In the recent reply to the EU’s public consultation on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Fianna Fail highlighted that future reforms should permit member states to decide on the capping of direct payments at national level.

It is our view that the current BPS payment ceiling should be reduced to €60,000, from the current €150,000 level.

“In 2016, BPS data showed that over 99% of Irish farmers received a payment of under €60,000,” he said.

This policy position will help to ensure that future CAP monies protect farmers on small hectares with entitlements, McConalogue added.

“This follows the 10% cut in pillar 1 direct payments under the 2014-2020 CAP and the threat of funding cuts should Britain leave the EU.

Latest Teagasc figures reveal how vitally important CAP payments are for sustaining farm enterprises and the rural economy; 75% of farm income currently derives from direct payments.

McConalogue believes that this policy sets out to protect 99% of farmers who receive a BPS payment; it also aims to provide additional monies to increase existing payments, he added.

CAP beneficiaries in 2016

Last week, the list of CAP payment beneficiaries for last year was published by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The department is obliged, by EU regulations, to publish the list of all beneficiaries of CAP funding – once they receive more than €1,250 – by the end of May each year.

A total of 133,182 beneficiaries received CAP payments in the Republic of Ireland in 2016; in excess of €1.6 billion was dished out to these beneficiaries in CAP payments last year.

The average payment received by a CAP beneficiary in 2016 equated to €12,121, figures show.