Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, Michael Fitzmaurice, has questioned whether farmers will see benefits of a “supposed” rise in funding for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan (CSP) in the coming years.

As part of an announcement yesterday (Wednesday, October 20), the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, stated that funding over the seven-year period (2021-2027) will increase by almost 30%, or €1.2 billion, compared to the 2014-2020 period.

The minister also revealed indicative allocations for Pillar II measures in the CAP plan.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “While the primary headline is the supposed increase to the overall budget, I’m left questioning where farmers will realistically benefit from this.

“If the minister is claiming the increase is across 2021-2027, does this include all of the funds used to roll over GLAS [Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme], BDGP [Beef Data and Genomics Programme] and other schemes for this year and next?

“Under the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan [CSP] moving forward, funding for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme has remained at €250 million per annum,” he added.

CAP funding for other schemes

The minister announced yesterday that he is providing €260 million for the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme, which is set to replace the BDGP scheme.

Fitzmaurice continued: “When BDGP was initially revealed in 2015, it was given at annual budget of €52 million – meaning there is no real change here either.

“Despite the Sheep Welfare Scheme originally being quoted as a €25 million scheme, it is being dropped to €100 million over the course of the five-year period between 2023 to 2027.

“There are increases evident for the organic farming sector and Knowledge Transfer initiatives, but we must ensure that as part of these initiatives, the vast majority of the money is dispensed to farmer participants rather than non-farming participants,” the deputy added.

Agri-environmental measures

As part of the new agri-environment climate measure, the new environmental scheme to replace GLAS, will be allocated €300 million/year.

“As part of this scheme, 20,000 farmers are set to get paid at a higher rate than the remaining 30,000,” Fitzmaurice added.

“It is worth welcoming the news that the decision has been made to redistribute 10% of the value of the Pillar I budget to the Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) – or frontloading to those of us on the ground – as well as the move to continue with internal convergence to a level of 85%.”

The independent TD is seeking clarity on where exactly the €723 million of carbon tax funding will be spent in the next few years of the CSP.

“It seems as if the minister is doing his best to ‘sugarcoat’ [the] announcement in an effort to appease farmers when, in fact, the benefits might not be as great as farmers are being led to believe,” Fitzmaurice concluded.