Fianna Fáil & Greens must deliver on convergence promise

The President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Colm O’Donnell has issued a reminder to Fianna Fáil and Green Party TD’s of promises made during last February’s General Election.

The INHFA leader stated that “both parties made clear promises that convergence of Pillar 1 payments should continue during the CAP Transition period.” This he explained “is likely to be for two years (2021 & 2022) providing a legal framework to ensure payments to farmers until the next CAP programme commences.”

In drafting the Transition Regulation, the EU Commission has, stated O’Donnell “provided enough flexibility to the small number of Member States still wedded to the historical payment model which in Ireland’s case continues to pay farmers based on stock and production levels from twenty years ago.”

When we assess current payment rates there is, he added “a clear inequity in the payment model as farmers on the higher end at €700/ha continue to receive over four times the amount paid to farmers on the minimum payment of €160/ha and this disparity is becoming more and more difficult for the EU Commission to justify.”

In addressing the justification for this ongoing disparity O’Donnell outlined how the debate had for many years centred on the opinion that the farmers with the highest payments were the most productive. However, figures obtained by the INHFA from the Department of Agriculture exposed this miss-perception and revealed very little difference in stocking rates between farmers irrespective of their Pillar 1 payment.

Through the current CAP Programme a convergence model was applied that ensured a minimum payment of €160/ha for all Pillar 1 payments. This model was, stated O’Donnell “seen by many as a means of ensuring minimal redistribution with the promise of full flattening delayed until the next CAP. With the next CAP Programme now facing a delay, these farmers should not have to wait another two years before we recommence convergence.”

The leader of the INHFA concluded by calling on both Fianna Fáil and the Greens to ensure convergence of payments continues through the next two years of Transition by having it included in the Programme for Government. This he stated “is what the two parties promised, it is what the majority of farmers are waiting for and most definitely the right and just thing to do. After all justice delayed is justice denied.”