Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin has welcomed the general thrust of the Irish Presidency amendments submitted to the Council of Ministers in Brussels today, which favours small and medium farmers and is biased in favour of increasing payments to farmers who have been actively farming in recent years but who have low payments at present.
He pointed in particular to the amendments concerning the “voluntary redistributive payment” which would result in somewhat higher payments on the first hectares. How many hectares is a matter for debate and would depend on the funds available but ICSA believes that the French proposal to favour the first 50 ha should be the yardstick.
Mr Gilmartin said, “Small to medium-sized Irish farms are the most vulnerable to funding cuts and negative market influences, so it is very welcome to see that such farms will be the focus of a top-up payment on their first hectares.” The voluntary redistributive payment aims to take account of the greater labour intensity on smaller farms, and the potential savings made through economies of scale by larger farms.
In relation to internal convergence, Mr Gilmartin highlighted the amendment which references taking note of a farm’s production levels prior to 2012, wherein productive farms with low entitlements will be rewarded with a faster rate of convergence towards the national average. He said, “This is good news for many small to medium sized farms which have maintained or increased their productivity since the last round of CAP reform, despite operating with small or even no entitlements. It will also be welcomed by many young productive farmers who have entered farming during this period and could benefit from a more equitable distribution of funds.”
Mr Gilmartin concluded, “Ireland’s EU Presidency provides an excellent opportunity to promote the unique nature of Irish farming. The Irish Presidency’s proposal to allow increased flexibility via allowing Member States to achieve partial convergence within the period of the next CAP framework can work well for Irish farmers and should be supported.”