Clarity of SFP rules required, ICMSA

With each passing day, increasingly more questions regarding the CAP Reform agreement and in particular in relation to the Single Farm Payment (SFP) keep arising. It is essential that the Minister of Agriculture resolve potential anomalies associated with the new system in a fair and balanced way and provide farmers with clear answers as soon as possible.

This is according to John Comer, President of ICMSA.

“While the decisions taken at EU level have been decided, it is the decisions that will be taken by our minister based on flexibilities afforded to him by the EU agreement that will ultimately decide on the level of loss/gain suffered by individual farmers.   Some majors decisions have to be taken and it is better that these are taken sooner rather than later to remove the uncertainty surrounding the Single Farm Payment going forward.”

Like all previous agreements, Comer said, it is quiet clear that potential anomalies will arise that will unfairly penalise individual farmers and given that many farmers are already facing serious losses under the agreement, these must be resolved.

“With a new area base year of 2013 or 2015, with a future payment reference year of 2014, the application of linear cuts, the application of cuts on those above the national average to mention a small number of the issues, it is quiet clear major anomalies will arise and provisions must be made within the detailed rules to address these anomalies.

“For example, some farmers totally depending on farming for their income have a high payment per hectare but a low overall payment. It is not fair that they will suffer a cut to increase the payment of an individual with a much higher overall payment but a lower payment per hectare.”

With regard to the definition of active farmer, Comer said,  the minister should clarify at this stage whether he can implement measures such as a minimum stocking density and there is growing uncertainty that this can be done on a national basis and be applied to all farms.

“While there was general consensus that payments should be targeted at active farmers, unless measures can be implemented to achieve this, this will fail and ICMSA is increasingly concerned that this is the case.”

In conclusion, Comer said the Minister needs to recognise the growing concern and uncertainty amongst farmers and in this regard, he needs to take decisions as soon as possible to address this uncertainty and to remove unexpected and unfair anomalies in the implementation of the new system.

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