‘Clarity required immediately’ on 2021 CAP payments

One of the country’s leading farm organisations has urged both the EU and the Irish Government to provide clarity on payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2021, and to ensure that all payments will be maintained at least at current levels.

Pat McCormack, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), said that farmers needed this confirmation to provide “confidence on at least one aspect of their business”.

He stressed that it is “vital that where certainty can be brought to a situation that it is brought”.

The level of uncertainty faced by farm businesses at present is unprecedented, with sharp reductions in output prices due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the ongoing Brexit uncertainty; the launch of strategies at EU level with little or no regard for the economic sustainability of farmers; and still no certainty surrounding the future of farm payments post-2020.

“Farmers accept that many of these issues are outside the control of our Government and the EU. But the level and types of payments that will be available under CAP in 2021 is absolutely within their control and it’s well past the time that they brought clarity and certainty to this issue,” McCormack highlighted.

The ICMSA president argued that stimulating investment among farmers will be key to the recovery from Covid-19.

“The farming community will be central to any recovery in rural communities but they must be given a level of confidence to invest in their businesses – and it is impossible to have that confidence where farmers do not know what’s happening with CAP next year.

Direct payments represent a hugely important part of all farmers’ incomes and yet, here we are, just over six months from 2021, and farmers still do not know what payments they will be entitled to and at what level.

The farm leader remarked that this situation was “clearly unacceptable”.

“If the EU and our Government is serious about stimulating a recovery, then a first step would be to announce that all payments in 2021 under both Pillar I and Pillar II will be at the same levels as 2020, and this should be announced immediately,” McCormack insisted.

He concluded: “For goodness sake, let’s be certain where we can be certain; 2021 CAP payments is one issue where we must have certainty immediately.”