Cuts to Basic Payment Scheme ‘just not a runner’

Any cuts to the Basic Payment Scheme to fund the National Reserve is not acceptable, the ICMSA Deputy President Pat McCormack has said.

Last year, 3% of the Basic Payment Scheme financial ceiling was allocated to the National Reserve, providing about €24m in funding.

However, more than 6,000 farmers received allocations from the National Reserve in 2015, depleting the funds available for 2016.

McCormack said that last year it was made very clear to all parties that the only source of funding available to the National Reserve for 2016, and future years, would be claw-back from the sale of entitlements without land and from unused entitlements.

At a recent Direct Payments Advisory Committee meeting it recommended a linear cut in Basic Payments was needed to finance the 2016 National Reserve.

However, McCormack said the association could not agree with such a recommendation.

“The reality is that farm families all across the country are facing an incredibly challenging year in financial terms.

“Any suggestion that the value of payments under the Basic Payment Scheme could be further depleted is just not a runner as far as ICMSA is concerned.”

McCormack added that even the possibility of such a cut was likely to trigger “huge annoyance and anxiety” amongst farmers who were financially “at the pin of their collar”.

Last November, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney confirmed there would be no designated funding from the Basic Payment Scheme for 2016 to fund the National Reserve.

Successful applicants under the National Reserve will be eligible for an allocation of entitlements on land for which they hold no entitlements and/or a top up to the value of existing entitlements held by them, where such entitlements have a value below the National Average.

In accordance with the EU Regulations governing the National Reserve, Member States must give priority access to the two categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’.