How does the Irish ‘cheque in the post’ compare to Europe?

The average direct payment across the European Union (EU) was €266/ha in 2015. Ireland’s average direct payment came in just above this figure. Latvia had the lowest direct payment per hectare, at just over €100/ha, while Malta had the highest (€650/ha).

In 2015, seven million farms benefited from direct payments across the EU; these payments were paid on a total of 156 million hectares of land.

The graph below shows the average direct payment values across the EU (€/ha) in 2015.

Graph source: European Commission

Coupled payments

The decoupling of direct payments occurred in the 2003 CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reform. This meant that payments were no longer linked to the production of a product.

However, a limited amount of coupled payments were permitted. This limit is generally 8%, but it has exceeded this in some countries.

Coupled payments are used to maintain production levels of particular products during difficult times. The production of these products may not only be important for farm incomes, but also for economic, social and environmental reasons.

The chart below shows the voluntary coupled support in the EU (by sector) for 2015.

Graph source: European Commission

Small payments

Payments are not made to farmers if the total amount of the payment is considered to be too small. These figures vary across EU countries, but range between €100 and €500 and between 0.3ha and 5ha.