Agriculture ministers reach agreement on Cap reform
Irish farming groups give cautious welcome to EU's Cap (Common Agricultural Policy) deal
IFA President John Bryan said the decisions reached by member states provided “important flexibilities for Ireland”. Photograph: David Sleator
Irish farming groups gave a cautious welcome to an agreement on the single farm payment reached last night in Brussels, as part of a radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap).
Following two days of tense negotiations, agriculture ministers from the EU member states reached a common position on reform of Cap in a deal brokered by the Irish presidency of the European Council. Negotiations will now commence with the European Parliament next month, with a final agreement expected in June.
The key issue for Irish farmers was the Single Farm Payment. With the European Commission proposing a flat-rate payment per acre, Irish farmers were concerned about how payments would be distributed.
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The proposal agreed last night grants flexibility to member states making the transition to a flat-rate system, which is already used by some countries.
Crucially, the council proposed that the introduction of a minimum payment for farmers would be voluntary. Farming groups such as the IFA have argued the introduction of a minimum payment would result in a cut to payments of some of the country’s more productive farmers, and redistribute funds to inactive farmers.
Speaking in Brussels last night, IFA president John Bryan said the decisions by member states provided “important flexibilities for Ireland, which include approximation, variable greening and coupled payments” though he stressed that tens of thousands of farmers would still lose significant amounts from their Single Farm Payment.