European Commission to return €410m to farmers

The European Commission has this week published a regulation to reimburse €410m to European farmers.

This amount was deducted from farmers’ CAP Direct Payments for the 2015 budget year in order to create this year’s so-called agricultural crisis reserve.

The Commission has said the move will see some €12.9m will be returned to Irish farmers.

In spite of a number of critical situations in the agricultural sector in the past year, it was not necessary to touch the crisis reserve in 2015.

The additional support measures taken during 2015 were financed from existing budgetary availabilities in 2015, while the €500m support package announced in the autumn, primarily for the milk sector, will only lead to EU expenditure from the 2016 budget.

This decision means that these amounts must be reimbursed by October 15, 2016.

The concept of the agricultural crisis reserve and this reimbursement mechanism was agreed in the 2013 CAP reform and applied for the first time in the 2014 budget year.

The deduction only applies to Direct Payment amounts above €2000 and does not apply in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania where Direct Payments are still being phased in.

Last year some €27m was to reimbursed to Irish farmers, which was deducted from their 2013 Single Payment Scheme payments.

According to the Department of Agriculture, to date 112,787 farmers have now received the advance of their Basic Payment Scheme totalling €714.4m.

It says work is under way in order to put in place an additional advance payment run.