The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have welcomed the decision by the European Parliaments Agricultural Committee to ratify the EU Commissions draft CAP Transition Regulation. This Regulation offers a degree of stability to farmers in that the legal framework is extended to ensure payments can be made during the limbo period between CAP programmes.

The INHFA President Colm O’Donnell outlined how the Transition Regulation offers several options and flexibilities to Member States. Included in this is the provision for continuing with the Internal convergence model. This is the mechanism put in place by the Commission to assist the process for a more equitable distribution of direct income support among farmers.

“During the pre-election debates political parties made clear promises to farmers of their support for continuing with convergence during the Transition period”, stated O’Donnell. He added, “Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and many rural Independents backed the INHFA call to address the unfairness if in Government”.

This Transition period offers a unique opportunity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to build new schemes that will foster more sustainable farming. This is very easily done by rewarding existing good practices in extensive farming systems and incentivising the introduction of these practices on unsustainable intensive farming systems.

The INHFA leader pointed out that the unfairness of the Greening Scheme must also be addressed during the Transition period where one farmer gets €48 per hectare for the retention of permanent grassland and another gets €210 per hectare for carrying out the same measure. The DAFM needs to transition all farmers towards the replacement for Greening which is the Eco-Scheme where financial support will be outside of the convergence process.

Concluding, he stated “that the 3,000 farmers currently locked out of the Glas Scheme must be catered for with an Environmental Scheme available to them during the Transition period”.