What has the commission recommended for Ireland’s CAP plan?

Earlier today, the European Commission issued a set of recommendations to each member state for formulating the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) strategic plans in each country.

Under the future CAP, the EU envisages the member states playing a larger role in deciding how to achieve certain goals under the policy, as long as they adhere to general commitments.

Each member state is required to submit a strategic plan as to how they will go about doing this, which will be signed-off on by the commission.

The recommendations are divided into a number of general objectives. So, what do these recommendations hold for Ireland?

Smart, resilient and diversified agriculture sector

Under this heading, the commission makes three recommendations to Ireland.

The first of these is to support farmers in capturing higher share in the value chain through innovation and diversification of products and markets; investments in ‘quality aspects’ (such as quality schemes and labelling); and encouraging producer organisations.

The commission also encourages better access to finance for farmers; and improving viability, particularly of medium-sized farms and those in areas of natural constraint by “increasing the fairness and the efficiency” of income supports through internal convergence or possibly redistributive income support.

Environmental care and climate action

Under this goal, the commission made eight recommendations to Ireland.

These include improving the environmental and climate-related performance of income support through appropriate requirements and schemes.

The commission also recommends widespread improvement in nutrient management, partially through optimised fertilisation and, in some cases, limited fertilisation.

Ireland should also encourage improvements to the efficiency of enteric fermentation in livestock, according to the commission.

The other recommendations on the environmental side include:

  • Halt “deterioration” of peatlands, potentially through funded schemes;
  • Step-up efforts in tree-planting, providing necessary support to achieve this;
  • Increasing the area to be farmed organically, with appropriate support and measures to develop the market for organic produce;
  • Improving the conversion status of grasslands and heathlands, through maintaining extensive grazing and expanding mixed-species grassland;
  • Improve the resilience of the farming sector to climate risks, such as water stress on grassland and fodder crop, potentially by supporting partnerships between livestock and arable farms and the creation of fodder reserves.

Socio-economic fabric of rural areas

In this area, the commission recommends improving animal health and welfare in line with consumer expectations.

The use of integrated pest management for the purpose of reducing pesticide usage is also recommended.

The commission says that access to finance and land for young farmers should be improved, by targeting inheritance constraints and supporting cooperation between generations.

The commission also recommends supporting basic services in rural areas, and people’s accessibility to them; and the development of a bio-economy, by supporting renewable energy production.

Sharing of knowledge, innovation and digitalisation

In this final area of general objectives, the commission makes just one recommendation for Ireland, which is to support further integration of the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System, and strengthening links between research, advisors, education, the farming community and interactive innovation projects.