Hogan: Young farmers to the fore in CAP reform

Young farmers and generational renewal will be a key part of the proposed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) following the current reform, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has said.

Speaking to attendees at the annual Macra na Feirme Rally and Conference in Thurles, Co. Tipperary on Saturday (October 27), the commissioner highlighted key changes being proposed.

These include more flexibility for member states and specific funding for young farmers directly.

“The key innovation in our proposal is a new delivery model, which will replace the existing one-size-fits-all approach with a more flexible system,” he said.

“This new approach will allow greater freedom at national level to decide how best to meet common EU-wide objectives while responding to the specific needs of farmers, rural communities and wider society.”

Recognition

The commissioner also highlighted that young farmers are specifically noted as one of the nine key objectives of the reformed CAP for the first time ever.

He said that young farmers will benefit from a range of instruments, both mandatory and voluntary.

At least 2% of the national direct payments budget will have to be devoted to generational renewal. This will be more than double what is currently spent today – some 0.8% of the funds.

This amount has to be allocated either in the form of top-up income support in CAP Pillar I and/or in lump sum installation grants in Pillar II, he said.

Commissioner Hogan underlined that the responsibility will be more on the member states to draw up and deliver comprehensive plans to meet European and national objectives for farming, food and rural development policy.

Complementary income support measures are included in the proposal he said, highlighting that the young farmers’ top-up under direct payments will be kept and reinforced but member states will have increased ability to modify schemes to best suit their young farmers’ needs.

 Co-operation

Member states will also have capabilities to support co-operation between farmers, he added, in the forms of farm partnerships, transitional planning, retirement planning and improved brokerage for land acquisition.

This could build on Macra’s own land mobility work and initiatives, the commissioner said.

Member States will be allowed to establish financial instruments to support working capital – which will be especially important for young farmers facing challenges of starting up, Commissioner Hogan said.

Finally, on the issue of the new CAP budget, the commissioner said that, in light of challenges such as Brexit, migration, security and escalating trade tensions, “relatively modest” budget cuts have been put forward by the commission.

Concluding, Commissioner Hogan praised the work Macra na Feirme has done over the years.

“Macra taught me many life lessons – how to organise, how to advocate, how to stand up for rural life in Ireland.

I have brought these lessons with me and I’m glad to be here today to listen to the next generation of Ireland’s rural leaders.

“Macra is a great organisation which punches above its weight in Europe, and indeed I think if we had more Macras, we would have even more vibrant rural areas across Europe,” he finished.

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