The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association will be holding a series of meetings with their members to hear their views on the next CAP program. National President Colm O’Donnell outlined how the meetings, which are commencing this week, will give members the opportunity to develop and prioritise the organisations’ position in the forthcoming CAP negotiations.
With CAP payments now forming a substantial part of farmer income it is critical stated O’Donnell “that these payments reflect the needs of the majority of farmers, unlike what happened in the last reform, which saw the top 2000 recipients receive more than 52,000 of the lowest earning recipients.” A fairer re-distribution of payments is he added “an issue that has been raised with me by numerous members over the last year and clearly this is something we will be prioritising. However, how we go about this is what the consultation with our members will seek to achieve.”
The new CAP continued O’Donnell “will we are led to believe, focus more on the environment through climate change measures and the protection of habitats. If this is the case then clearly the Natura 2000 sites which are EU Habitats should feature in any future payments and there is an option to pay farmers for these habitats out of either pillar 1 or 2.”
On Pillar 2 or the Rural Development Program we will he outlined “need to ensure any agri-environmental scheme is accessible to farmers, easy to apply and understand unlike what we have in GLAS. With regard to the Areas of Natural Constraint our campaign has helped to deliver substantial gains for farmers on hill and in more severely disadvantaged areas, but how much more can we deliver in the new CAP program. On land transfer would a Farm Retirement Scheme deliver better results in generational transfers than just prioritising increased payments to young farmers.”
While on Basic Payment he stated how “options such as front loading of payments, capping of the overall payment, a flattening of the greening or all of the payments and the option of coupling for vulnerable sectors such as the suckler cow or the hill ewe will also need to be discussed.”
O’Donnell concluded by expressing the hope that all farm organisations will consult fully with their membership to get a true reflection of what all farmers want. With regard to the INHFA he stated “ our members will be notified by text of upcoming meetings and encouraged all to come and have their say in helping develop our CAP 2020 proposals.”