Irish farm bodies outline key priorities in CAP submissions

Irish farm organisations have made their positions clear on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), following the conclusion of the Department of Agriculture’s CAP consultation period.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmer’s Association (ICSA), Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Associaiton (ICMSA), Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) have all lodged CAP submissions to the European Commission for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The farming groups have unanimously sought the CAP budget being maintained at the very least, in spite of Brexit.

Some of the key points from each of the organisations are outlined below.

ICSA

The ICSA has called for the re-introduction of the Yellow Card principle regarding farm inspection penalties, adding that the level of inspections should be reduced.

The organisation has called for more efficient targeting of ANC payments and transparency in the food chain.

The group says Pillar 1 payments should be targeted at active farm families, adding that a payment cap should be an “integral part of payments”.

Regarding young farmer supports, the ICSA has favoured a three-pronged approach: supporting retiring farmers, possibly through a retirement scheme from Pillar 2; ensuring that young farmers have fair access to payments; and having specific supports to encourage farm development, particularly for newly-established farmers.

Knowledge transfer needs to have a much higher payment which would reflect a more targeted approach, according to the association, and there should also be greater focus on closed cycle farming and renewable energy.

ICMSA

The ICMSA gave its submission, noting that the intervention price for butter and SMP should be adjusted annually to reflect 90% of the average cost of milk production.

According to the organisation, the Voluntary Milk Supply Reduction Scheme should be a permanent policy fixture. The Basic Payment and Greening Payment should be amalgamated into one payment, according to the ICMSA; while the group also believes that the convergence model needs to be reformed.

The ICMSA also called for linear cuts to payments to be discontinued, and a tiered system of cuts applied instead where those with larger payments pay a bigger contribution.

In addition, the first €10,000 should be exempt from any cuts. Payments of active farmers must be protected to the maximum extent possible, the ICMSA says.

Regarding Pillar 2, simplification is the main goal for the ICMSA, with an agri-environment scheme “that is relevant to all farmers” called for. The importance of the ANC Scheme and a scheme for active farmers in SAC/SPA areas was underlined, and an early retirement scheme also sought.

IFA

The IFA has called for all on-farm inspections to be limited to a maximum of 1%, with 14 days’ advance notice provided for all inspections. Advanced payments should be increased to 85%, according to the organisation.

There is a need for stronger targeted direct payments for vulnerable sectors, while agri-environmental schemes must be increased to accommodate the potential for farmers to drawn down up to €10,000.

The IFA has called for an annual fund of €300 million per annum for the ANC Scheme.

In light of the ongoing controversial Mercosur negotiations, overall EU policy, particularly in the areas of CAP and trade, must also be more aligned.

On young farmer supports, the IFA has called for a retirement scheme to be introduced for farmers over 60 years of age. The Macra na Feirme land mobility service should also be mainstreamed as a funded measure within the CAP Pillar 2 programme, the association says.

INHFA

The INHFA is calling for a national front-loaded payment for all of the country on the first 20ha with a digressive flat rate payment on the remainder.

The organisation has also called for the maximum ceiling on payments for individuals to be at least halved from its current level of €150,000.

The group is recommending a two-year limit to entitlement leasing, after which they must be sold or lost; while, the number of hectares paid on for National Reserve payments should be capped at the national average of 32ha.

The farm body is seeking an increase in the ANC budget to €336 million and the maintenance of the MSG areas. The group says payments should be targeted to areas with the highest level of environmental and specific constraint with payment rates for: €250 on first 20ha; €170 on next 14ha; and €70 on an additional 6ha.

A new agri-environment scheme should pay substantially more than GLAS – to a maximum of €12,000 with average payment of €7,000, according to the INHFA.

Dismissing the BDGP as “too complicated“, the organisation is calling for a suckler welfare scheme, as well as doubling the budget of the Sheep Welfare Scheme to €50 million.