Front-loaded payments will help protect the family farm – INHFA

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association has prioritised the front-loading of Pillar 1 payments as a means of protecting small-holders. National President Colm O’Donnell outlined how the organisation has spent the last number of weeks in an extensive engagement with our membership in order to ensure their views were reflected in our final submission. This engagement he stated “involved contacting all members and encouraging them to express their views either through Branch and Regional meetings or directly through our office.”

While the feedback from this process was varied, there was a strong opinion expressed for certain policy positions, most notably the front loading of payments. On this O’Donnell stated “how nationally we recommended that this should be done on the first 20 hectares with a digressive payment on the remaining hectares.”

Other proposals agreed on by the organisation included

• The same payment processes throughout the country i.e no regionalisation.

• The decoupling of the Greening payment from the Basic payment and paid on a flat rate basis.

• A payment on Natura land from Pillar 1 in recognition of the clear burden placed on this land through these designations.

• The retention of the Young Farmer Top-up, paid on 32ha

• In Pillar 2 an Agri-environmental Scheme paying up to €12,000 that is available to all farmers on hill, commonage and high nature value farmland. Proper consultation will be required with farming groups prior to the announcement of any terms and conditions for this scheme and clearly it should not involve any collective responsibility.

• An increase in the ANC budget to €336m annually and target it at the lands with the highest level of natural constraint.

• With the Beef Data & Genomics Program viewed by most members as a complete disaster it was recommended we replace it with a Welfare Scheme, similar in simplicity to the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

• The continuation of the Sheep Welfare Scheme with an increased budget and payments for ewes with a top-up for the Hill ewe.

• On TAMS, Farm Safety needs to be prioritised with increase spending and grant aided at 50%. It was also proposed to provide grant assistance for the improvement and repairs of older sheds and farm buildings in order to make them safe for extreme weather conditions. Other proposals included, for sheep fencing the grant aiding of replacement posts and a lime subsidy.

• The introduction of a Farm Retirement Scheme to commence at 55 years to help in generational renewal and quality knowledge transfer from the experienced farmer.

O’Donnell concluded by thanking all those that returned their submission or attended the CAP 2020 INHFA think tank meetings. By doing so he added “we have ensured our membership have had their say in helping to develop INHFA policy on the future CAP, which gives us a strong mandate in any future negotiations.