Department outlines CAP difficulties

Department of Agriculture officials gave an insight into the rollout of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform 2014 to 2020 for Ireland and various difficulties that have yet to be ironed out at a Teagasc Business Conference today.

In an extensive brief to solicitors, accountants and advisors in Tullamore, Andy McGarrigle of the department, spoke at length on CAP rollout.

“For 2015 we have to introduce the new scheme the single payments scheme, which will be replaced by the basic payments scheme. Ireland and all of the member states must also implement the greening measure. We must implement a scheme for young farmers and we must implement a national reserve. There are also other optional schemes that we may or may not implement depending on the decision that have to be taken,”  he outlined.

In terms of optional schemes, he noted the voluntary couple support, payment for natural constraints and a special scheme for small farmers are under review.

“But if one or more of those optional measures is implemented the money available for the basic payments scheme reduces. This is because each member state is given an envelope of money and what ever they want to do internally has to be funded from that envelope of money. There isn’t any extra money available.”

All farmers are subject to greening but effectively it’s only the arable farmers, he noted.

“Some 94 percent of Irish farmers have nothing only permanent grassland. So the arable farmer will have to have crop diversification if he has more than 10ha. He will have to have two crops between 10-30ha if he has more than 30ha, it must be three crops.

“Arable farmers with more than 15ha must have five per cent ecological area. Organic farmers are exempt. So are farmers with more than 75 per cent in permanent pasture. The greening measures don’t have a great impact on Ireland.”

McGarrigle outlined the definition of a young farmer, “farmers who are under the age of 40 years in the first year of application and they must have established there holding in the previous five years”.

He continued: “The minister will decide the criteria in terms of education and so on. The payment will be in place for a max of five years and then the money goes to the new young farmers coming into the system. The five years dates from the time of the setting up of the holding. So if someone set up their holding in 2013  in 2015 they will have completed three years so they will only have two years left.”

In terms of farm partnerships between younger and older farmers, he noted difficulties with father and son partnerships.

“In a partnership of father and son, the son won’t qualify (for the young farmers scheme). This still has to be ironed out. There is no issue with partnerships other than that. You can’t have a position were monies targeted for young farmers is being paid out to older farmers.”

With regard to entitlements, he suggest similarities between what we have today and what we will have after 2015. “Both use entitlements, there’s an annual application, the farmer must continue to declare eligible land you one ha of eligible land for each entitlement and the entitlement will continue to be transferable by sale lease and so on.

He said the main difference was that “the entitlement value will change from year to year. People with high-value entitlements will be reduced.  Then the people on the low value will move up as the proposals currently stand”.

He also noted issues with leased entitlements with the rollout of the new CAP. “The status of leased entitlements is yet to be clarified. Because if you are using entitlements in the agreement in June, it said only entitlements definitively held by the farmer in 2014 can be used. That effectively means that you can’t take into account those entitlements that are leased by a farmer from another farmer.”

According to the department official, some €50m is leased every year, €24m of that is leased by farmers who have leased out all there land in entitlements and are effectively not farming and weren’t paid in 2013. So they won’t be getting a new set of entitlements.”

A number of key decisions is expected to be made within the coming weeks, where the rollout of CAP for Ireland is set to be announced mid-December.

Additional reports from the Teagasc Business Conference are to follow over the coming days