FF and Greens ‘must deliver on convergence promises’ – INHFA

The parties involved in government formations talks – particularly the two non-government parties, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party – are being urged to stick to their election commitments on convergence.

Colm O’Donnell, the president of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA), said that both these parties made “clear promises” that convergence of Pillar I payments would continue during the transition period for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“In drafting the transitional regulation, the European Commission has provided enough flexibility to the small number of member states still wedded to the historical payment model, which in Ireland’s case continues to pay farmers based on stock and production levels from 20 years ago,” O’Donnell stated.

When we assess current payment rates there is a clear inequity in the payment model, as farmers on the higher end at €700/ha continue to receive over four times the amount paid to farmers on the minimum payment of €160/ha…this disparity is becoming more and more difficult for the commission to justify.

The farm leader argued that the justification for this disparity was based on “the opinion that the farmers with the highest payments were the most productive”.

However, O’Donnell claimed that the INHFA had obtained figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine which show that there is “very little difference” in stocking rates between farmers, irrespective of their Pillar I payment.

“Through the current CAP programme, a convergence model was applied that ensured a minimum payment of €160/ha for all Pillar I payments. This model was seen by many as a means of ensuring minimal redistribution with the promise of full flattening delayed until the next CAP,” he noted.

With the next CAP programme now facing a delay, these farmers should not have to wait another two years before we recommence convergence.

O’Donnell called for Fianna Fáil and the Green Party to ensure that the next programme for government includes a commitment for convergence of payments to continue over the next two years.

“This is what the two parties promised, it is what the majority of farmers are waiting for and is most definitely the right and just thing to do,” he concluded.