Irish delegation secures deal on reform of Cap
Agreement paves way for most significant reform of EU agricultural policy in decade
Speaking in Brussels yesterday evening, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the agreement represents a “hugely significant development in the history of the Cap”.
The Irish presidency of the European Council reached agreement on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy yesterday, paving the way for the most significant reform of the EU’s agriculture policy in a decade.
Following three days of negotiations between the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU’s member states, agreement was reached on how Europe’s agricultural policy will operate between the years 2014 and 2020. Speaking in Brussels yesterday evening, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the agreement represents a “hugely significant development in the history of the Cap”.
“ For the first time, the three European institutions have come together to agree the framework for the development of the European agriculture sector and they have delivered a policy that I believe secures the sustainable development of the sector up to 2020 and beyond,” he said.
Among the most significant changes are a revision to the way the single farm payment is distributed, and measures to promote environmentally sustainable farming. The proposal also settles on 2017 as the date for the abolition of sugar quotas within the EU, giving countries such as Ireland the option to return to sugar production.
The policy outlines a fundamental change in the way the single farm payment is paid, linking payment to the amount of land, rather than to past productivity. This involves a process known as “approximation” by which all farmers are brought to a closer average payment level, a change that will involve a significant redistribution of Ireland’s €1.25 billion annual single payment envelope as well as the introduction of a minimum payment level.
While Irish farming groups have lobbied against the introduction of a minimum payment, arguing that it may reward unproductive farmers, the agreed proposal will allow member states to implement a minimum payment of 60 per cent of the average single farm payment by 2019. It is estimated about 60,000 Irish farmers will see their annual payment increase under the scheme, with 50,000 experiencing cuts.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president John Bryan said “tens of thousands of family farms will lose under this flawed reform”, although he noted significant progress has been made to minimise the damage to Irish agriculture since the Cap reform proposals first emerged. However, 50,000 of Ireland’s most productive farmers will lose between 15 per cent and 35 per cent of their overall payment by 2019, he noted.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) said the agreement undoubtedly presented an “advancement” on the commission’s original proposal.
Most Irish farmers will also see additional cuts to their income, through various changes to the single farm payment scheme, such as the introduction of a youth farming initiative and a change to the crisis management fund.