‘CAP changes need to reflect the majority of farmers’ – INHFA
With Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) payments now forming a substantial part of farm income it is “critical” these payments reflect the needs of the majority of farmers, the head of a national lobby body has warned.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) will be holding a series of meetings with its members to hear their views on the next CAP.
National president Colm O’Donnell outlined how the meetings – which are set to begin later this week – will give members the opportunity to develop and prioritise the organisation’s position.
Unlike what happened in the last reform, which saw the top 2,000 recipients receive more than 52,000 of the lowest earning recipients.
He added: “A fairer redistribution of payments is an issue that has been raised with me by numerous members over the last year and clearly this is something we will be prioritising.
“However, how we go about this is what the consultation with our members will seek to achieve.”
“The new CAP, we are led to believe, will focus more on the environment through climate change measures and the protection of habitats.
“If this is the case then clearly the Natura 2000 sites – which are EU Habitats – should feature in any future payments and there is an option to pay farmers for these habitats out of either Pillar 1 or 2.
“On Pillar 2 or the Rural Development Program we will need to ensure any agri-environmental scheme is accessible to farmers, easy to apply for and understand – unlike what we have in GLAS.”
O’Donnell said that the INHFA had made “substantial gains” on the Areas of Natural Constraint, for farmers on hill land and in more severely disadvantaged areas, and added that the organisation could similarly deliver in the new CAP program.
He put forward ideas such as a ‘farm retirement scheme’, rather than just prioritising increased payments to young farmers.
“Options such as front loading of payments, capping of the overall payment, a flattening of the greening or all of the payments and the option of coupling for vulnerable sectors such as the suckler cow or the hill ewe will also need to be discussed,” he said.
Members will be notified of the dates of the meetings by text.