Front loading of Pillar 1 payments and a much stronger Pillar 2 were two of the major demands made by the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association at their National Rally held in Westport on Friday night last December 7th. In outlining how flawed arguments in the last CAP reform ensured a minimal redistribution in Pillar 1 the organisation are insisting that the current reform needs to deliver equality and protect smaller farmers in vulnerable areas and sectors.
This sentiment was also supported by Public representatives from Fianna Fail (Charlie McConologue TD) Sinn Fein (Senator Rose Conway Walsh ) and Independents Michael Fitzmaurice TD, Marian Harkin MEP and Luke Ming Flanagan MEP.
In the presentation to the 500 strong attendees the organisation called for a front-loading of payments on the first 20ha with a digressive flat rate payment on the remainder and a straight €60,000 maximum payment for any one farmer.
On the proposed Eco Scheme which will be part of Pillar 1 the INHFA is proposing that this to be mandatory both at member state and farmer level. Payment of this the organisation maintains, should like Greening, account for 30% of farmers Pillar 1 payment and be paid at a flat rate payment of €75/ha from 2020. With regard to the make-up of the scheme the INHFA are recommending that it should involve the measurement of the carbon footprint for each farm of origin and also provide for a suite of suitable actions for extensive and intensive farming systems.
In Pillar 2 the organisation is calling for the Government to honour the commitment they made to provide additional funding for CAP and ensure the overall Pillar 2 pot exceeds €650m. With this we can target additional €80m towards the ANC Scheme and ensure for farmers with the highest level of constraints can get a payment of up to €6000.
On whatever scheme succeeds GLAS the organisation is calling for proper consultation before any scheme is finalised and the end to collective responsibility for commonage farmers. Payment rates in the scheme will have to increase and it would need to be accessible to all hill farmers and those on high nature value farmland.
Other proposals include,
• The continuation of the sheep welfare scheme with an increased budget,
• A Natura payment for farmers on designated land in clear recognition of the major burden placed on these lands,
• In TAMS a 50% grant aid for any farm safety measures and a reduction of the minimum spend to €500. Included in this should be the re-roofing and strengthening of older sheds,
• On knowledge transfer and locally led schemes there is a need to ensure that at least 80% of any funding goes towards farmers: A farm retirement scheme to help in generational renewal that commences at 60 and pays €400/week,
• A new suckler cow welfare scheme with a range of measures and a front-loaded payment on the first 20 cows,
INHFA National President Colm O’Donnell summed up by stating “how these proposals if implemented will deliver better outcomes for the vast majority of farmers and challenged other farming organisations to outline their proposals and then farmers themselves can decide what organisation is acting in their best interests.”