70% advance payment derogation sought from Brussels

A derogation to make 70% advance payments for direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is being sought by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed that an application has been made to the European Commission in Brussels recently.

The department representative said: “In light of the extreme weather conditions this year, the department has recently submitted an application to the European Commission seeking a derogation to make advance payments of up to 70% for direct payments and of up to 85% for support granted under rural development.

These rates are in line with those approved by the commission in some previous years. A response is awaited from the commission.

A derogation to issue 70% advance payments was secured by the department both last year and in 2016.

Under EU regulations, balancing payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) / Greening may commence on December 1, 2018. An advance payment of up to 50% may be made from October 16, 2018, as things currently stand.

Coupling CAP payments with farm safety?

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, stated that he was keeping an open mind regarding proposals from some quarters to couple future CAP payments with farm safety training.

But he pointed out that, to an extent, such coupling was already taking place through Pillar II schemes.

Continuing, Minister Creed explained: “We have a degree of linkage already; if you’re drawing down a TAMS (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes) grant, you have to do a half-day farm safety course.

And in fact, from the feedback I’ve had from people who’ve been down that road, they’ve found it extraordinarily beneficial.

The number of farmers drawing down TAMS grants represents only a percentage of the total amount of farmers in Ireland, Minister Creed added.

The real challenge, he argued, is getting the message across to everybody.