With ongoing discussions in Brussels and across EU member states on the future direction of CAP, INHFA President Colm O’Donnell has outlined the need for a more inclusive CAP that can deliver for all farmers.
Currently stated O’Donnell “for many farmers the only income certainty comes through their CAP payments which is why we need to ensure fairer payments for farmers in vulnerable areas and sectors.” This he added is critical for all farmers, as the potential of an accelerated exodus from the land that reduces our political influence, will ultimately undermine the incomes of better off farmers that are presently insulated.
With the main media focus of the current CAP negotiations revolving around the budget and a possible capping on individual farmer payments, there is stated O’Donnell “the possibility that more fundamental issues around re-distribution, the make-up of the new eco-scheme in pillar 1 (which is to focus on climate change and the environment), and increased conditionality for the new Basic Income Support Scheme could be sidelined.”
Clearly he continued “this is something that the INHFA are determined will not happen which is why we continue to work both at home and in Brussels to ensure fairer outcomes for the vast majority of the country’s 130,000 farmers.”
Of major concern to the INHFA are proposals outlined by the EU Commission with regard to peatlands and wetlands described as carbon rich soils. These proposals will we believe create major problems for a sizable number of farmers, in complying with the requirements for the Basic Income Support Scheme (BISS – previously known as the Basic Payment). It could also end up excluding them from the proposed Eco-scheme (this scheme is the replacement to Greening) and whatever Agri-environmental scheme that succeeds GLAS. The INHFA added O’Donnell “are proposing a number of amendments to this which we expect will be debated by the European Parliament in early December.”
A further compliance issue that the organisation has highlighted and will be including amendments on, is a proposal under the BISS that will require farmers to draft a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP). Currently farmers in GLAS are submitting a NMP, but the proposal to include it under the BISS will increase application costs to this scheme. This will also increase the difficulty in developing an accessible Agri-environmental scheme for farmers that are currently in GLAS or were previously in REPS.
On the re-distribution proposals the farmer’s leader expressed major misgivings on what is currently proposed. In welcoming the initial proposals to limit payments at €60,000, the introduction of labour units does, he stated “make it pointless as little or no money will be made available under this proposal which is designed to help fund a front loaded model.”
He concluded by stating “how this and other redistribution models will have to be amended if we are to help and protect the most vulnerable farmers who will shoulder the highest burden in delivering on the environment and climate change.”