A survey of the membership of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has indicated “overwhelming support” for full convergence of Pillar I payments of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the association has said.

The survey included 10 questions that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine had issued to the stakeholders of the CAP Consultation Committee. These questions were then circulated to all INHFA members, with over 200 members replying.

Commenting on these replies, INHFA President Colm O’Donnell stated: “This particular response is in line with previous engagement with our member base on CAP, which we commenced through a series of branch and county meetings in Spring 2018.”

84% of respondents to the survey backed full convergence, with 80% saying they wanted this achieved “by the earliest possible date”.

“These figures are not surprising and does justify our ongoing calls for full convergence which will benefit 72,710 farmers and equates to 60% of farmers currently receiving CAP payments,” O’Donnell stated.

In relation to the capping of payments there was, he stated, “unanimous support for this with various options suggested, ranging from €35,000 up to €100,000″.

“For the vast majority of respondents, there was the desire to see this as low as was practically possible and, similar to the capping of payments, there was very strong support to exclude labour units in any final agreement on this,” The INHFA president noted.

In the association’s response to the department on the CAP consultation, it called for full convergence to be completed by 2027 in addition to a front-loaded option which can be facilitated under the proposed Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) and a maximum payment of €60,000 to any one farmer with no allowance for labour units.

O’Donnell highlighted the European Commission’s recommendations for Ireland’s CAP strategic plan, which suggested that Ireland should continue efforts to pursue internal convergence.

This, he said, would “help protect the small to medium size holdings which are the backbone of our family farm model that all representative bodies maintain we must protect”.