There is growing uncertainty and concern among farmers regarding the Single Farm Payment Scheme under CAP and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine needs to immediately set out to each individual farmer the likely consequences of the new regime - whether positive or negative - according to the president of ICMSA, John Comer.
“We simply can’t have a situation where farmers lose out on payments because they fail to fill out a form before 15 May 2014 when they still haven’t been given the information necessary for them to fill out that form. There is a serious information deficit in relation to the new regime that needs to be addressed immediately so that informed decisions can be made by farmers. It is not acceptable that farmers are making decisions for future years in this kind of information vacuum regarding their future direct payment”, said Mr Comer.
“ICMSA members have been in contact with the Association regarding conflicting advice and information about how the new system will operate and how it will impact on them. They want to know what gains or losses they are likely to incur as soon as possible so that they can make future investment decisions. The new scheme covers the Food Harvest 2020 period so farmers need this information if they’re to avoid making incorrect decisions that could have disastrous consequences for their farms. On top of that, the uncertainty surrounding land leasing is exacerbating the problems and the Minister needs to spell out the options available to farmers in this situation. This issue affects family leases, farmers who formed companies and non-family leases and approximately €40m is at stake. These farmers find themselves in this difficulty due to no fault of theirs and the Department - and the Department of Finance - need to ensure that this issue can be addressed with no unexpected and unfair tax implications”, he continued.
“Based on current entitlements and land base the Department at this stage know with probably 95% certainty what each individual farmer based is going to gain or lose under the new regime and they should write to each individual farmer to set out their current position so that they can then take decisions to minimise the negative impact on themselves. This information must be sent to farmers well in advance of the 15 May 2014 SFP submission deadline and should, in fact, be sent as early as possible so as to avoid the impression that farmers are deliberately not being given the ‘bad news’ in advance of the local and European elections which will take place a week after the deadline. ICMSA doesn’t wholly subscribe to that idea but the current uncertainty is unnecessary and unfair given what is at stake for farmers making huge decision at present. It’s time for the confusion to end and some badly needed clarity to be brought to the scene”, he concluded.