The European Commission confirmed to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) that upward-only convergence of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Pillar I payments is not possible.

A delegation from the organisation which was led by INHFA president Colm O’Donnell queried this with commission officials from DG Agri.

According to the INHFA, the EU officials clarified that “for member states who choose the internal convergence model it is definitely not possible to have upward-only convergence”.

Commenting on this, O’Donnell said:

All Irish farmers deserve to hear the full facts on convergence with regard to what it means, how it is structured and how the only way payments can converge upwards is if payments at the top level travel downwards.

In relation to the new CAP, O’Donnell outlined that the policy won’t start as scheduled – which is why the European Commission has already drafted transition regulation to ensure payments to farmers in 2020.

This, he said, will “turn the spotlight back onto member states – with the Minister for Agriculture and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine officials charged with setting transition rules for internal convergence for next year and possibly 2021″.

The INHFA president said his organisation also received confirmation from the commission that convergence of payments can continue during this transition period.

“The INHFA is adamant that this should happen,” O’Donnell concluded.