An IFA delegation led by President Tim Cullinan met with the Department of Agriculture in recent days to discuss the priorities of the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The IFA have stated that funding for the new policy must be increased to match the demands being put on Irish farmers.
Cullinan stated: “Our central message was the contradiction between policies like Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategy on the one hand, and a proposed cut to the CAP Budget on the other.”
“Extra asks have to mean extra funding. The next Government cannot stand over a situation where funding is cut – it has to be increased,” he added.
Deputy President Brian Rushe, who also represented farmers at the meeting, outlined 6 priorities that the IFA identified to be at the core of the Department’s position on CAP.
These priorities are as follows:
Funding of CAP post-2020:
The IFA stated that Ireland cannot accept a cut of 9% in real terms to direct payments from CAP. They reported that, under the current proposal from the Commission, there is a shortfall under Pillar I and II, which could result in cuts to the Basic Payment Scheme including during the transition phase.
“No farmer can suffer a cut in their payments under the new CAP or during the transition. Under the next CAP, the annual value of direct payments has to increase from the current level of €1.8bn to €2bn inclusive of national co-financing,” an IFA spokesperson stated.
Increasing farm income:
Tackling the income disparity at farm level must be an absolute priority as family farm incomes account for about half of general income, according to the farming organisation.
They revealed that the recent agri-food 2030 strategy consultation survey showed that lack of profitability/income was the main deterrent to young people getting involved in the sector, i.e. generational renewal.
A fair and viable price:
“Transposition of the EU Unfair Trading Practices Directive into law by May 2021 and legislate to ensure fairer margins across the food chain; eliminate all unfair trading practices, including the ban on below-cost selling; and provide for price transparency along the food supply chain.”
Targeted support for vulnerable sectors:
Suckler and sheep farms were highlighted as sectors that must be provided with higher direct payments as both of these sectors are under serious economic threat.
Tillage enterprises also featured in this discussion, with the sector becoming more vulnerable due to restrictions on the use of necessary products which maximise efficiency.
The IFA also outlined that there must be recognition for the cyclical nature of methane in GHG emissions accounting methodology. Environmental schemes need to be sufficiently funded to enable an overall payment of €10,000 per farmer in a REPS-type scheme. Higher payments must apply in Natura areas.
Reducing compliance costs/specification:
Lastly, the farmer representative organisation stated that Irish farmers already meet the highest of standards across all SMRs (statutory management requirement) and GAEC (good agricultural and environmental condition of land).
“New EU initiatives must not add to the complexity of the CAP, nor create additional compliance costs on farmers. We cannot have CAP payments leaking to service providers or people who are not genuinely farming.”