Final talks on reform of Common Agricultural Policy have begun

Negotiations intensifying on the redistribution of the Single Farm Payment, a key issue for Irish farmers

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney.

Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 01:14

Final discussions on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy began yesterday in Luxembourg, with negotiations intensifying on the redistribution of the Single Farm Payment, a key issue for Irish farmers.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said he was hopeful that agreement could be reached. “European farmers expect a result this week and we’re going to try and do everything we can to deliver that for them,” said the Minister ahead of the meeting.

Negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy have been ongoing for three years. But it has fallen to the Irish presidency of the Council of the European Union – now in its final week – to secure agreement on reform.

Negotiations between member states and the European Parliament continued late into the night last night in Luxembourg, in a bid to hammer out agreement on the final outstanding issues.

Among the most contentious issue is the redistribution of the Single Farm Payment – the system of direct supports paid to farmers throughout Europe by the European Union.

Ireland receives approximately €1.25 billion per year through direct payments. While the overall EU expenditure on the single farm payment is being reduced and rebalanced, the commission has also proposed a radical change to the way in which the payment is distributed within member states. Instead of the current system where payment is based on past production, the Commission is proposing that the payments should be calculated on a per hectare basis, though many farming groups, including the IFA, argue that this will reward inactive farmers.

The issue of a minimum payment dominated discussions on direct payments, with a minimum payment of 60 per cent of the average under discussion. However, several countries, including Ireland, are pushing for this percentage to be pushed down even further.