McGuinness gives CAP update at farmer meeting in Galway

Fine Gael MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, spoke at a Bank of Ireland-organised meeting in Oranmore, Co. Galway yesterday, Thursday, April 11, where she outlined how the new Common Agricultural Policy is shaping up.

McGuinness said that there is an increased focus on the targeting of direct payments towards active farmers to meet economic, social and environmental objectives.

“The parliament has called for full convergence of payments by the end of the next programming period in 2027,” she said, arguing that this is a positive for farmers with low-value entitlements and those with low overall payments.

She did also warn that not every farmer would be better off under these proposals.

However, it is a concern for those farmers who have only a small number of entitlements above the average level and whose total payment is small. They will lose under the proposal.

“I’m also concerned about the unintended consequences of convergence where full-time farm families above the entitlement value will lose money, while landowners with significant off-farm income will gain at their expense,” added McGuinness.

She said that she has written to Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to call for an impact assessment of full convergence on family farm income and output.

“The question is should particular account be taken of the situation facing farmers entirely dependent on farming and their CAP support payments?” she asked.

Under the new CAP, member states must draft CAP Strategic Plans for the period 2021 – 2027. This is an opportunity for Ireland to adopt a land use policy taking into account sectoral issues, regional aspects and incorporating environment, biodiversity and climate action.

McGuinness also addressed the environmental and sustainability considerations that may feature in the next round of the CAP.

“Separate payments for eco-schemes will support farmers who adopt additional environmental measures, including: nutrient management plans; allocating some agricultural area to non-productive features; and for the appropriate maintenance of wetland and peatland,” she highlighted.

The committee is also calling for 20% of a member state’s direct payments envelope to be dedicated to eco-schemes.

McGuinness added that 2% of a member state’s payments would be earmarked for a young farmers scheme under the committee’s plans.