An IFA delegation led by President Tim Cullinan put forward the priorities for the next CAP at a meeting with the Department of Agriculture today.
“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 said.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe, who also represented farmers at the meeting, said IFA has identified six priorities that should be at the core of the Department’s position on CAP.
- Funding of CAP post 2020 – The current proposals must be improved upon as Ireland cannot accept a cut to CAP direct payments of 9% in real terms. 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.
- Increasing farm income – Family farm income is about half of general income, and is even more challenging in vulnerable sectors. Tackling the income disparity at farm level must be an absolute priority. 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 – Strong targeted supports for vulnerable sectors such as suckler and sheep must be provided through higher direct payments as both of these sectors are under serious economic threat. Tillage enterprises are also becoming more vulnerable due to restrictions on the use of necessary products which maximise efficiency.
- Payment for carbon sequestration and more accurate accounting for farm emissions – The benefits farmers and agriculture provide in carbon sequestration must be recognised and rewarded in the plan, but with additional funding from outside the CAP. All carbon sinks including grassland, hedgerows, crops, peatlands and forestry must be fully accounted for with the most up to date science.
There must also 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/simplification – Farmers already meet the highest of standards across all SMRs and GAEC. 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.