Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Tom Hayes TD, has welcomed the new CAP deal, saying it “represents a milestone achievement”.
The South Tipperary Deputy was speaking after arriving home from Brussels after lengthy discussions concluded in consensus after days of negotiations in Luxembourg and Brussels. “The CAP deal which has been sealed represents a significant milestone and the success of the Irish EU Presidency. This is a strong deal for Irish farmers and, crucially, it is a much better package of measures than the proposals originally put forward by the European Commission. Rather than a system of flat rate payments a much fairer distribution system has been agreed. The deal will see €12 billion in EU support for Irish agriculture over the next seven years. There was a lot of concern amongst farmers about the Commission’s proposal for a flat rate payments system. However, under the final deal, Member States can opt for the partial convergence model recommended by Ireland combined with a 60% minimum payment, which represents a very good outcome for Irish farmers. The package is particularly positive for young farmers, as it includes a mandatory 25% top-up payment for farmers under 40. This will act as a significant incentive for young men and women considering entering the farming sector, and it should help to inject some additional youth into Irish agriculture. Positive progress has also been made on the greening of CAP. From now on 30% of the Single Farm Payment will be linked to greening measures. This approach was proposed by Ireland, and will also minimise the impact on direct payments. The lifting of sugar quotas from 2017 is also something that should be warmly welcomed from Ireland’s point of view, particularly in relation to the efforts to bring the sugar industry back to Ireland. The redistribution of payments was always going to be the most contentious element of the new CAP deal for Irish farmers. However, I am confident we have delivered the fairest deal possible, by reaching an agreement to combine the Irish model with the 60% minimum payment.”