So, three days, three weeks and three years after the European Commission launched its CAP reform proposals, a deal has now finally been done, writes MEP Luke Ming-Flanagan.
Looking at what’s been agreed upon from a wider EU context, it is very clear, that for those countries, who have already completed full convergence, that this CAP has little to offer from the point of view of progress when it comes to financial fair play.
From an environmental point of view, it is nothing short of a denial of reality.
In Ireland’s case, however, it is undeniable that significant further advancements have been made in this CAP reform regarding financial equality for over 72,000 farmers.
Gains in convergence and the establishment of a mandatory redistributive payment leave the government with little choice but to implement a fairer CAP.
The regulation also allows Minister McConalogue the freedom and flexibility he spoke about to go even further with redistributive policies.
Environment and land eligibility
On the environment, it gives Ireland an opportunity to fudge the challenge or alternatively to step up and face reality.
On land eligibility, it gives farmers in higher nature value areas the certainty to look at future challenges without the fear of being taken out of the system and sacrificed in favour of those in the more intensive sectors.
As with the last regulation, Ireland is free to push ahead with 100% convergence. However, unlike the last regulation, Ireland now must converge payments to a minimum of 85% from the current floor of 60%.
When completed, it would mean an increase for those on the lowest payments of over €2,200 per year on a holding of 32ha when you include ECO schemes.
This, however, is only the minimum increase possible. The government can, if it so decides, go for 100% convergence whereby those farmers would gain €3,200 per year.
The introduction of a compulsory 10% redistributive payment offers opportunities for smaller farmers.
It gives ample scope to the minister to ensure that those currently on entitlements of €300/ha need lose nothing with 100% convergence when it comes to their first 20 hectares. The 10% minimum is worth €1000 per year to farmers.
There is an option for the minister to lessen this somewhat in the CAP strategic plan by showing that redistribution has already partially or completely taken place through convergence.
However, if the minister was to exercise this option, it would impact on those people on €300/ha significantly.
One of the big-ticket items up for discussion at the negotiations was capping. Well let’s cut to the chase. Capping is now living in the same residence as the dodo.
The proposal agreed upon at the Trialogue negotiations is meaningless when it comes taking money from those that are receiving obscenely large sums.
The possibility of taking labour costs into account flies in the face of social justice and facilitates factory farming over the family farming model.
In advance of this week’s Trialogue negotiations, I heard the line over and over again from Minister McConologue that he did not want to have his hands tied and that Ireland should decide what is best for its own farmers.
This agreed regulation offers him that opportunity. He has the freedom and flexibility to go for full convergence.
Furthermore, he has the freedom to complete it sooner than the latest possible date of 2026.
He has the freedom to take front loading further than 10% without any strings attached. Now let him do it. I will be watching him every step of the way. He needs watching.