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Taoiseach must give a clear commitment that payments at farm-level will keep pace with inflation

 

Reacting to the outcome of the talks IFA President Tim Cullinan said that while a deal was needed, the funding provided for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) over the next seven years is not consistent with the EU’s aspirations for farming as part of the European Green Deal.

 

“On the one hand, the Commission wants farmers to take costly actions to implement the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, but on the other hand, they don’t want to provide the necessary funding,” he said.

 

“The overall allocation for CAP is down approximately 9% at constant prices, compared to the previous seven years. The Government will need to come forward with significant co-financing to protect payments,” he said.

 

“What farmers will want to know is how these figures, together with national co-financing from the Government, will translate into payments at farm level,” he said.

 

“The Taoiseach now needs to give a clear commitment to all farmers that their payments will at least be maintained in real terms during the transition in 2021/2022 and beyond when the new CAP comes into play,” he said.

 

“These talks were difficult with push back from the so-called frugal countries reducing funding for rural development from the recovery fund from €15bn to €7.5bn during the talks,” he said.

 

“While there is a ring-fenced ‘additional allocation’ for Ireland under rural development of €300m, the Government will need to provide significant National co-financing to support these programmes,” he said.

 

An essential aspect of the outcome is the creation of a €5bn contingency fund for Brexit.

 

“Depending on the Brexit outcome this may not be sufficient, but it is an important acknowledgement that some sectors and Member States will need aid if there is a poor outcome to the Brexit talks,” he said.

 

 

IFA President Tim Cullinan said the latest papers from the EU Council meeting in Brussels show that rather than increasing the overall allocation for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) it has been reduced by some €5bn.

“In the draft before the talks began, €15bn was allocated to the Rural Development (Pillar 2) element of the CAP from the €750bn recovery fund. We understand this has now been reduced to €10bn,” he said.

“This cut is unacceptable, and the Taoiseach must make it clear that it is a total non-runner,” he said.

“We cannot have a scenario where our Taoiseach comes back from the talks with less for the CAP than he went out with, the CAP budget must increase not reduce,” he said.

“It is easy to talk the talk but now he needs to walk the walk,” he said.

“The EU wants farmers to do more for the environment and biodiversity yet they will not back it up with the necessary funding,” he said.

 

IFA President Tim Cullinan held his first meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Barry Cowen this afternoon.

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The draft EU budget for 2021, which has been published by the EU Commission, is totally unacceptable and must be rejected by the new Government. The proposal for Pillar I of the CAP, which includes the Basic Payment Scheme is approximately €50m less for Ireland, than 2020.

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IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins said that while the proposed REPS-type scheme committed to in the Programme for Government (PfG) is important, it must not distract from the need to avoid any gaps in payments for farmers in the existing GLAS scheme.

Currently, the only definite for farmers is that 36,000 GLAS contracts finish at the end of this year. The promise of a scheme which as yet there is no detail on could lead to uncertainty.

“The priority for an incoming Minister for Agriculture must be to guarantee that that all farmers finishing GLAS later this year will be in an agri-environment scheme next year, whether this is a continuation of GLAS or this proposed REPS-type scheme. IFA has made it very clear that a REPS-type scheme must deliver payment of €10,000 per annum,” he said.

Michael Biggins also said that the new REPS-type scheme will be funded from the carbon tax and will be worth €1.5 bn up to 2030. However, it is unclear how much funds will be available next year when the scheme is due to start.

“The current GLAS scheme is worth about €1.45bn in the current seven-year Rural Development Plan. The new Government needs to be clear that the €1.5bn from the carbon tax is ‘new money’ and will be in addition to the existing funding for GLAS and other schemes,” he said.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that at a meeting with the Department of Agriculture last week, IFA stressed the need to get early agreement on the EU CAP transitional rules. This will allow the extension of GLAS contracts for a year or two before the new CAP.

He said, “There must be no gaps in payments. Gaps occurred in the past, and these had a detrimental impact on farm incomes”.

 


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