AGRICULTURE

McGuinness Outlines How New CAP Is Shaping Up

Mairead McGuinness39 views

Reform to be completed under New Parliament in the Autumn, she tells Oranmore Enterprise gathering

Under the next round of the  CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) Member States will have the option of excluding large scale processors of agricultural produce from receiving CAP payments, if the view of the agriculture committee is taken on board Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said.

Speaking at Bank of Ireland’s Future of Farming event in Oranmore, Co. Galway on Thursday night, she said there is an increased focus on the targeting of direct payments towards active farmers to meet economic, social and environmental objectives – in particular measures to address climate change.

“Under the new CAP, conditions for the basic payment include: maintenance of wetland and peatland in sensitive areas of Natura 2000; crop rotation on arable land and establishment of buffer strips along water courses,” she said.

“Separate payments for eco-schemes will support farmers who adopt additional environmental measures including nutrient management plans, allocating some agricultural area to non-productive features and for the appropriate maintenance of wetland and peatland.”

She said the Agricultural Committee is calling for 20pc of a Member State’s direct payments envelope to be dedicated to eco-schemes, which go beyond the requirements for receipt of basic payments.  And 2pc will be earmarked for a young farmers’ scheme.

A mandatory redistributive payment of at least 5pc from Pillar I payments will see additional support for the first number of hectares.

“On capping of payments, Member States will be required to reduce payments above €100,000 with account taken for part of the on-farm labour costs.

“The Parliament has called for full convergence of payments by the end of the next programming period in 2027,” she said.

McGuinness said this is positive for farmers with low value entitlements who also have low overall payments.

“However, it is a concern for those farmers who have only a small number of entitlements above the average level and whose total payment is small. They will lose under the proposal.

“I’m also concerned about the unintended consequence of convergence where full time farm families with above the average entitlement value will lose money, while land owners with significant off-farm income will gain at their expense.

“Painting convergence as simply taking from the rich to give to the poor ignore the complex reality at farm level,” she said.

The MEP said she has written to Minister Creed calling for an impact assessment to be carried out on full convergence on family farm income and output and a detailed analysis of the changes in family farm structures.

“The question is, should particular account be taken of the situation facing farmers entirely dependent on farming and their CAP support payments?

“Under the new CAP, Member States must draft CAP Strategic Plans for the period 2021 – 2027.

“This is an opportunity for Ireland to adopt a land use policy taking into account sectoral issues, regional aspects and incorporating environment, biodiversity and climate action,” McGuinness said.

The reform of the CAP will not be completed until the new Parliament is in place in the Autumn.

Further changes are expected before the Farm Ministers, the Parliament and Commission sit down to thrash out the final shape of the CAP post 2020.