New CAP deal: Ringfencing direct payment funds for eco schemes ‘a significant change’

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreement reached by EU Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday, October 21) will be challenging, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

However, it is important that a deal has been reached, IFA president Tim Cullinan said.

Commenting, the president said:

The agreement to ringfence 20% Pillar I direct payments for eco schemes is a significant change.

“It means that all farmers will have to undertake additional environmental measures to have a chance of maintaining their payments.”

All farmers already have to meet standards of good agricultural and environmental practices under current CAP rules.

These new eco schemes will mean that farmers will have to carry out extra measures, the president highlighted.

There is a genuine concern that farmers are being asked to undertake more measures, which push up their costs, for no extra funding.

The German Agriculture Minister Julia Klochner, who holds the EU Presidency, said this agreement fulfils the aspiration of ‘a greener, fairer and simpler CAP’.

The IFA describes this reform as fundamentally different, noting that it gives member states much more autonomy as they will have to develop their own CAP Strategic Plans for approval by the EU Commission.

Consequently, there is a long way to go before the full details are agreed and come into force on January 1, 2023, the organisation says.

The agreement during the night means that the process now moves to trilogues between the EU Council, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament, which is voting on its position this week.

There were also a number of important CAP votes in the European Parliament last night with more votes to come later this week.

A proposal from the EU Greens to scrap the current CAP reform was defeated by 503 votes to 166, but an amendment to ringfence 30% of direct payments for eco-schemes was approved, according to the IFA.

“This and other differences between the council and the parliament positions will have to be settled during the trilogues,” Cullinan concluded.