A consultation in relation to ‘armchair farmers’ is set to be carried out in the autumn, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has said.

Speaking at the AGM of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) yesterday (Thursday, March 5), the minister was responding to a question from one ACA member who asked: “Is there a department negotiating position on what are commonly known as ‘armchair farmers’, or people who are leasing out entitlements”.

The question came as members and the minister were discussing the consultation process for Ireland’s strategic plan for the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

In response, Minister McConalogue said: “That is going to be a key consideration and something we have to give a lot of thought to in relation to the development of the CAP strategic plan.”

“We are speaking with the CAP Consultative Committee and the main stakeholders, and then there will be a wider consultation in the autumn too with farmers,” he noted.

The minister acknowledged: “There’s going to be lots of different views on this, and it’s going to be quite a contested concept.

I would very much look forward to engaging with everybody… Our objective has to be to support those who are farming the best way we can, and to reward enterprise and hard work.

“That has to be objective. It’s never as straightforward as it might look on paper. I’m looking forward to the consultation process in relation to how we tease out that issue and ultimately what the policy will look like,” he added.

Agri-environment pilot

Minister McConalogue also fielded several questions on the upcoming agri-environment pilot scheme.

He noted that the potential rate of payment to farmers has not yet been finalised, but that it was his intention for it to be a full year consultation.

He also said he hoped that farm advisors and consultants would give their feedback on the scheme, saying: “The feedback and learning over the next year-and-a-half is going to be really important in terms of setting the framework for the flagship environmental scheme that will replace GLAS [in 2023].

“The more we can ensure the advisors participate in it and have a role in it, the broader the knowledge and feedback we’re going to get as well,” the minister remarked.