A four-week consultation has begun on Ireland’s draft proposals for the 2023-2027 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan.

The consultation launched this weekend by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue will run until August 27.

Commenting on the proposals, Minister McConalogue said: “The draft interventions have been developed based in no small measure on stakeholder input, including through extensive consideration of the situation in the sector by way of a formal ‘SWOT’ analysis and needs assessment process.

“The proposed draft interventions are wide-ranging, and I believe will support farmers and rural communities to address the economic, environmental and social challenges that they face.”

The minister noted that there is a particularly strong emphasis on the achievement of a higher level of climate and environment ambition through a new “Green Architecture” that will operate across both direct payments and rural development interventions.

He also emphasised that Ireland proposes to put the CAP Strategic Plan at the core of the transition to more sustainable agricultural and food systems.

Minister McConalogue added: “I have consistently said that I would consult widely to hear the views of all stakeholders in order to fully inform my decisions on, for example, redistribution of direct payments, capping and convergence of direct payments, and on how best to achieve the economic, environmental and social objectives of the CAP. I look forward to all stakeholders, and the wider public, engaging in the process over the coming weeks.

“Two virtual townhall meetings will be conducted via Webinar at 7:00p.m on August 11 and 12. There will be an opportunity to ask questions on the night or to submit them in advance. In addition, written submissions can be made to my department by post or email until August 27.”

What’s included in the CAP Strategic Plan?

Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) for the period 2023-2027 will underpin the sustainable development of Ireland’s farming and food sector by supporting viable farm incomes and enhancing competitiveness, by strengthening the socio-economic fabric of rural areas, and by contributing to the achievement of environmental and climate objectives at national and EU levels.

The proposals will change the way CAP planning is approached and implemented. Instead of the familiar compliance-based approach followed previously, a new performance-based approach will be adopted.

This will be underpinned by a ‘New Delivery Model’, under which Member States’ performance will be judged on outputs and results, and on how their plans contribute to CAP objectives at EU level.

The CSP will also take a more holistic approach, incorporating interventions under both Pillar I (Direct Payments and Sectoral Interventions) and Pillar II (Rural Development) into one overall plan.

What happens next?

The responses received through the public consultation will be reflected in a draft version of the overall CAP Strategic Plan that will be submitted to external evaluators in early September.

Following completion of their work, an updated plan will be made available for further public consultation in October/November. The final plan will be submitted for Government approval in December before submission to the EU Commission by the deadline of January 1, 2022.

At this point, the EU Commission will have six to eight months to approve the plan ahead of implementation on January 1, 2023.