Proposal to cap direct payments ‘totally unsuitable to our circumstances’

The proposal, as it stands, to cap direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 has been described as “totally unsuitable to our circumstances” by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Minister Creed attended a consultative conference on the CAP in Newbridge, Co. Kildare, earlier this week. A number of other political representatives also contributed their views on the reform of the CAP at the event.

The legislative proposals revealed by the European Commission to cap direct payments at a maximum of €100,000 – as well as progressively reducing payments over €60,000 – came in for some criticism at the event.

During his address to those present, Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, highlighted the fact that the proposal needs to be addressed.

The Donegal TD indicated that direct payments need to be “properly capped” so that the CAP post-2020 has “more legitimacy with the wider community and so it is seen as properly fair by the farming community”.

Continuing, deputy McConalogue said: “Fianna Fail took a very strong line in relation to our initial contribution to the CAP proposals in saying that there needs to be a €60,000 cap on Pillar 1 payments.

“I am concerned that, in relation to the proposals put forward so far, there are too many loopholes and that it will actually effectively mean that the proposal is simply unimplementable.

“In the next couple of months, we need to ensure that that is addressed at European level.”

‘An administrative nightmare’

Meanwhile, Minister Creed also had some reservations regarding the current structure of the proposal to cap direct payments.

Speaking to AgriLand, he said: “We are being told we will have greater autonomy; we would like to have a capped system. But, as it is currently articulated, I think it is totally unsuitable to our circumstances.

It talks about taking into account family labour and taking into account other income.

“In the context of simplification, this would be an administrative nightmare.”

Concluding, the minister stated that both he and his department are driven to ensure that farmers who “contribute significantly” to the agricultural economy are protected in the context of the CAP post-2020.