New CAP deal must ‘deliver for all farmers’ – INHFA

Farmers need a more inclusive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that can deliver for everybody, according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

Colm O’Donnell, president of the INHFA, said that: “For many farmers, the only income certainty comes through their CAP payments, which is why we need to ensure fairer payments for farmers in vulnerable areas and sectors.”

His comments come as the EU continues debating the future of the CAP, with several reforms proposed for the policy from 2020.

O’Donnell claimed that if the CAP payments are interfered with, it may give rise to an “accelerated exodus from the land” – which would, in turn, reduce the political influence of farmers, and, in time, come to effect more well-to-do farmers who may be insulated at the moment.

Currently, the main thrust of the CAP debate is about its budget and the possible capping of farmer payments, which, according to O’Donnell, could push equally important issues into the background – including re-distribution, the new eco-scheme, and new conditions for the Basic Income Support Scheme (BISS).

O’Donnell highlighted what he believes is another significant issue – the classification of peatlands and wetlands as ‘carbon-rich soils’.

This, he claimed, could create difficulties for farmers in complying with requirements for the BISS, and may also rule them out of the proposed eco-scheme.

Going into more detail on the BISS, O’Donnell added that a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) – which farmers would have to include under the BISS, according to the proposed reforms – would increase the application cost for the latter.