Last month, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) revealed a menu of five actions for farmers to choose from for the Pillar I eco scheme under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
As part of the next CAP, which will run from 2023-2027, 25% of every farmer’s basic payment will be skimmed off and the funds will be returned at a flat rate to farmers who successfully qualify for the Pillar I eco scheme.
Remember, the Pillar I eco scheme is not to be confused with the Pillar II Environmental Scheme.
To qualify for the Pillar I eco scheme, farmers must choose two of the following five measures:
- Non-productive areas and landscapes – an increased proportion of land would be devoted to non-productive areas and features above the baseline required in the CAP deal;
- Extensive livestock production – farmers will have to keep within a specified maximum overall stocking rate for the calendar year;
- Limiting chemical nitrogen (N) input – farmers will have to keep within a specified chemical nitrogen usage limit for the calendar year;
- Planting native trees – farmers will have to plant a minimum number of native trees per eligible hectare;
- Use of GPS-controlled fertiliser spreading – fertiliser to be spread with GPS-controlled spreaders.
While the exact figures have not yet been confirmed, Agriland understands the targets will look something similar to the following:
- Non-productive areas and landscapes: Under the proposals, farmers will be required to have 7% of their land area devoted to non-productive areas to be eligible for this measure. Hedgerows will be eligible;
- Extensive livestock production: Under the proposals, farmers will need to have a stocking rate below 95kg/N/ha to be eligible for this measure;
- Limiting chemical nitrogen input: Under the proposals, farmers would have to reduce fertiliser usage by somewhere in the region of 10-15% of the levels used in the year previous to the scheme (2022) to be eligible for this measure;
- Planting native trees: Under the proposals, farmers would have to plant three trees/ha/year to be eligible for this measure. Planting hedgerows will also be accepted;
- Use of GPS-controlled fertiliser spreading: Under the proposals, farmers will have to spread their fertiliser with a GPS-controlled spreader to be eligable for this measure. These spreaders retail at approximately €28,000.
It is important to point out that the precise scheme requirements have yet to be confirmed but the measures are expected to be somewhere in the region of the figures outlined above.
Farmers who do not qualify for two of the above measures or – for whatever reason – do not apply for the eco scheme, will ultimately be losing 25% of their Pillar I payment.
The DAFM estimates that €297 million per annum, or €1.483 billion over the course of the CAP will be available for the Pillar I eco scheme.
All active farmers will be able to apply for the eco scheme regardless of whether they hold entitlements or not and payment will be made on all eligible hectares claimed.
If all 129,000 farmers who submitted a BPS in 2021 claim all their eligible
hectares for the Pillar I eco scheme (approx. 4.698 million ha), the rate of payment should be approximately €63/ha/year.
If 85% of farmers apply (approximatley 110,000 farmers), the rate of payment should be approximatley €74/ha/year.