Derogation farmers ‘should not qualify for CAP payments’ – INHFA

Farmers availing of the nitrates derogation should not qualify for Common Agricultural Payments (CAP) payments, according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA).

Outlining the call as “Rebalancing of CAP Payments” – one of 10 points outlined in its plan for the future of the Irish suckler sector, the farmer organisation stated its reasoning for this.

It was noted that, in 2018, some 445,200ha of land availed of nitrates derogation; this, according to the INHFA, is a “clear conflict” with the current European move towards sustainable environmental objectives.

The group said that the incoming replacement for the Basic Payment Scheme and Greening, the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) will be focused on helping farmers become sustainable.

In the INHFA we don’t believe that farmers availing of these derogations should qualify for the BISS or any other Pillar I payment.

“Of course they should be given the choice to either cut back on their production or forgo their CAP payment.

“Where farmers chose the latter, then their payments should go into a central fund for redistribution. The size of this fund would depend on the number of farmers that choose to forgo the CAP, payment and the size of their payment.

“But if we saw all farmers forgo the payment and assume an average payment of €255/ha then there would be a fund of €113 million.”

The organisation proposed a range of options such as extra money which could be used for: a flat-rate payment on all other hectares of an additional €27/ha; a coupled payment for suckler cows; or form a part of the new Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS).

“Any of these options would provide valuable support to our suckler farmers,” INHFA president Colm O’Donnell said.

“Even if all farmers currently availing of these derogations decided to make the adjustments so as to no longer need these derogations then suckler farmers would still benefit.”