Creed on convergence and capping in ‘quest for fairer CAP’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has said that, while he is in favour of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) convergence and capping regarding the next CAP in 2021, care is needed to avoid “unintended consequences” on a per hectare basis.

The minister rejected the notion that CAP reference years are outdated because the system has evolved due to convergence in the mean time.

Relevance

Speaking in the Dail yesterday (Wednesday, February 6), Minister Creed responded to questions on CAP reform from Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv, who asked if the minister is in favour of capping basic payments and greening payments.

O Cuiv added: “Is the minister in favour of continuing with the situation as it stands, where all of these payments are based on something that happened in 2001 that might have no relevance to the current situation of the farmer?”

In response, Minister Creed said: “It is not fair to say that the reference years are an anachronism because the system has moved so much in terms of convergence.

In fact, in the period of the current CAP, more than €100 million will have moved from farmers with a higher-than-average per hectare payment to farmers with a lower-than-average per hectare payment.

The minister added that there is a requirement in the current draft proposals to get to a situation where every farmer has at least 75% of the average per hectare payment in the lifetime of the next CAP.

“We are on a journey that is going to see greater convergence and equalisation and I do not have any difficulty with that in principle.”

The minister said that he is in favour of capping, adding that he does not have difficulty with this in the new proposals.

SWOT analysis

“However, I am engaged in a process of consultation and in that context, it would be unfair to be overly prescriptive about my own views on this.

“We are doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis now and we will be doing a needs assessment of what would be best for us in the future.

“We will have an ex-ante evaluation of both of those processes before we complete our CAP strategic plan.”

He added that, while he does not have a problem with convergence and capping as a general principle, the department has to be careful about “unintended consequences”.

“There was an issue during the term of the last CAP in the context of convergence, whereby some people had a high per hectare payment but a low gross payment.

Some farmers found that their payment of €12,000 or €13,000 went down while payments to others with a big gross payment of €20,000, €30,000 or €40,000 went up because they had a low per hectare payment.

“We need to avoid unintended consequences in our quest to have a fairer CAP,” the minister said.

The minister noted that, while it is impossible to be definitive on the final outcome of CAP reform, there is no greening in the current proposal.

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