Calls for better redistribution of CAP payments ‘abundantly clear’

Calls for a better redistribution of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments under pillar one funding were made “abundantly clear” to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, last night.

Along with forestry, the topic of CAP payments was a key theme of the consultation meeting on the future of CAP post-2020 in the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.

While addressing the crowd of approximately 400 people, Minister Creed said: “A very strong message was redistribution. I had an opportunity only in the past couple of weeks – in the context of the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme – to make allocational decisions about redistribution.

“I ask you to judge me on what I particularly did in that area. It’s targeted where disadvantage is most – in the context of the additional €25 million that was available.

“I understand and respect the underlying message that is abundantly clear here; CAP must deliver,” he said.

The minister outlined that he “wholeheartedly” took the redistribution point on board.

I think as a farming community in Ireland, there is more that unites us than divides us. Ni neart go cur le cheile – together we are stronger.

“It is a sign of our social solidarity that in the context of CAP we will endeavour to make it better and fairer. That’s why attending a meeting like this is really, really important.

“We only get this opportunity every five years, to critique the last CAP and to see how we can best shape the CAP that we will operate under for the next five years.

“We can have all the ambitions in the world; but, if we don’t have a CAP that is sufficiently funded, then all of the other ambitions that we have for it in the areas of simplification, subsidiarity, generational renewal and all of the other worthwhile ambitions will be a wish list,” he said.

‘The damage has been done’

The point of redistribution of CAP payments was brought up by a number of contributors on the night.

One contributor from the floor said: “The damage has been done; because, 80% of the monies goes to less than 20% of the farmers; so it’s not fairly distributed.

The point of joining Europe in the first place was to give a decent standard of living to farming families in the whole of Europe. This hasn’t happened by any ways of means. Worse it has got in the last CAP in particular.

“The only way to get the thing some ways rectified is to bring it back to normality and to balance the whole thing out.”

Meanwhile, John O’Meara – a farmer – also gave his view on how the situation could be rectified.

“If you want to do something the farmers in this area, front-load the payments and keep the smaller farmers on them,” he said.

O’Meara argued that more should be given to farmers with 40-50ac, in order to “cut out the bigger fellas getting €150,000“.

This was a point that was echoed by Paul McDaid, a farmer from Co. Donegal and a representative from the Irish Family-Farm Rights Group (FRG).

McDaid outlined that he was under the impression that the unfair distribution of pillar one money as part of the CAP was to be addressed under the previous CAP reform in 2013.

He explained that small farmers are left frustrated when they see “factory farmers” getting large payments.

“That can’t be right. I don’t think there is enough talk about the pillar one funding being more fairly distributed. Hopefully, there can be something done on that this time round,” he said.