Linear cut to farmers’ 2021 direct payments ‘hugely regrettable’

There will be a linear cut of just over 2% on all direct payments for 2021 due to the reduced budget contribution from the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) budget, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has confirmed.

This is despite previous assurances from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget was not being cut, ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe said, following a meeting with the department.

McCabe said this is hugely regrettable and confirms the ICMSA’s repeated warnings that “it is the frontline Pillar I payments that were targeted under the new budget allocations bearing down, yet again, on active farmers”.

The ICMSA believes that the government should make good this 2% cut either through utilising unused funds under the BPS [Basic Payment Scheme] or, if necessary, through an allocation from the national exchequer.

“For too long, these kinds of small percentage cuts have been made to farmers’ payments and over time it has led to very significant erosion of value and effectiveness – it can’t continue,” McCabe stressed.

The deputy president noted that the department is making similar arrangements for BPS submission procedures in 2021 as those operated in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic.

Continuing, he said the department “should be complimented” on their ongoing role in delivering direct payments to farmers.

That said, he thought the department’s new website needed to be simplified in terms of accessing the online application system.