Creed convergence decision risks ‘permanent damage’ – INHFA

The decision by Minister Michael Creed to put internal convergence on hold for the transitional period of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been heavily criticised by one farm organisation.

Colm O’Donnell, the president of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA), commented that the decision risks “serious irreparable permanent damage” to farms classified as vulnerable or unsustainable.

“Michael Creed has finally shown his true colours and nailed them firmly to the mast in his decision to direct payments away from farmers with the lowest per-hectare values in favour of rewarding those with the highest values per hectare,” O’Donnell claimed.

This decision runs contrary to the basic EU guiding principle for its citizens, in that it’s their legitimate expectation to be treated equally as beneficiaries of CAP payments.

“If the minister’s intentions to pause internal convergence during the transition period were not to be challenged…serious irreparable permanent damage will be done to the future sustainability of up to 70,000 farms that are currently deemed either vulnerable or unsustainable,” the INHFA president continued.

O’Donnell also pointed out that the European Commission has drafted transitional regulations providing for the continuation of the internal convergence mechanism during the transitional phase.

“In addition to this, if you consider the negative impact a convergence pause will have on the 30% Pillar 1 Greening requirements, that being the retention of permanent grassland… You could see one farmer with a Greening payment per hectare of €48, and another with a Greening payment of €210 per hectare for possibly the next three years,” he claimed.

O’Donnell argued that this is “totally unacceptable” and “puts at risk future funding supports being pledged by European taxpayer’s for green elements of the next CAP”.

He concluded his remarks by saying that “under no circumstances will the INHFA give the minister an unchallenged run with his intended convergence pause…we will fight tooth and nail on this issue on behalf of the thousands of vulnerable farmers potentially affected”.

Creed announcement

Announcing the decision on Friday, December 13, Minister Creed said: “There is no operational need to implement internal convergence during the transitional period to ensure its success as a measure in the new CAP programme.

“Ireland has decided not to avail of this option during the transitional phase… The current CAP programme is implemented in a carefully designed and considered way in Ireland,” the minister argued.

“This implementation saw the operation of convergence run from 2015 to 2019. There will be ample time over the seven-year CAP period to implement any level of internal convergence Ireland decides to use,” Minister Creed added.