CAP financing to dictate a decade of choices

Pat mccormack, President of ICMSA, looks at the impact of the latest round of CAP funding changes on farm-level decisions for Irish dairy farmers

The Irish CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), which will be the cornerstone of European agricultural policy in Ireland for the five years 2023-2027, is currently being developed with recent public consultations on possible ‘interventions’ or programs – the first in a series as the debate develops.

The stated ambition of the CSP is to ‘support the sustainable development of the Irish agriculture and food sector by supporting sustainable farm incomes and improving competitiveness, strengthening the socio-economic fabric of rural areas and contributing to the achievement of environmental objectives and climate at the national level. and EU levels ”.

Achieving such admirable objectives is generally more difficult in practice than in theory and it is the practical application and the funding put in place by our government within the new CSP that will make the achievement of the declared ambitions more or less likely. of the ICMSA on Ireland’s CSP and the CAP the reform that preceded and sparked it was coherent.

We are critical and our critique is based on the indisputable fact that all of these developments – CAP reform, the Green Deal and Farm to Fork – are unprecedented and potentially unbearable pressure on our family farming system.

Many farm families face substantial losses under the CAP after 2020 and they suffer losses without a valid reason or see already modest payments reduced to increase payments to beneficiaries – often with questionable farming qualifications – who were already over. higher totals.

It is clearly the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Navy to recognize these losses and structure the CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) to ensure that these losses are minimized and that family farms are not adversely affected. losses so that non-farm entities receive more Payments.

As the new CSP is changing the approach from a compliance-based approach to a performance-based approach, it is essential that farmers are protected and treated fairly throughout the process.

As part of the consultation, interventions under pillars I and II are defined, as well as GAEC and SMR under the new “conditionality” heading.

Key role of the family farm

Commercial family farms play a central role in the rural economy – they are the hinge around which much of the wider rural economy revolves. The CSP must recognize this by minimizing losses to farm families and putting in place measures that will support commercial family farms for years to come. This must mean that the interventions proposed and introduced in what will become the new CAP in 2023 are farmer-centered in a way that takes into account a realistic and active definition of the term “farmer”.

With this ambition as a guide, ICMSA has taken a close look at the CSP and we will look at some of the key points that we believe would advance the stated ambitions of the CSP while protecting the commercial family farms without which the ICMSA says we do not. we will simply not have a functioning rural economy.

  • ICMSA estimates that the cap should be set at € 66,000.
  • ICMSA estimates that convergence should stop at 85% and that other measures should be adopted to counter the losses inflicted on farming families with high payments per hectare but a low overall payment.
  • ICMSA proposes that an analysis of the losers in the framework of convergence be carried out in relation to the impact that a CRISS payment would have on these farmers. A decision regarding the percentage allocated to CRISS above could then be taken on the basis of more complete information and a clearer picture.
  • The maximum allocated to Eco Schemes should certainly not exceed 25% but should be considerably lower given the heavy losses of convergence suffered by some farmers. There is also a strong possibility of non-adoption or low adherence to eco-programs by farmers if the terms and conditions are too onerous.
  • If a gender equality intervention can be introduced to encourage greater participation of women in agriculture, then it must be supported. Accordingly, ICMSA endorses the submission made by the Women in Agriculture Stakeholder Group.

How does ICMSA define
an active farmer?

ICMSA estimates that an active farmer should have at least 0.15 livestock units per hectare on land declared as forage. This would mean that the active farmer would have to have an annual stocking rate of 0.15 and hold stocks for at least seven consecutive months in accordance with current ANC rules.

The ICMSA defines an active farmer as a farmer who can provide proof that he is engaged in an agricultural activity. This means that they actively manage their land and regularly sell farm produce.

An active farmer must also have agricultural production of at least 50% of the value of his own Pillar I payment from the previous year. This production includes the sale of livestock, milk and crops.

A farmer active under the conditions set out above could benefit from a pillar I payment.

A non-active farmer includes a farmer who owns land or rights and leases them in full.

A non-active farmer should not be able to withdraw a payment in pillar I, but this non-active farmer would have the option of renting rights from an active farmer. A 5% per annum clawback should apply when rights are leased by a non-active farmer. This clawback does not apply to an active farmer who leases rights. The available recovery funding would be used to compensate farmers negatively affected by convergence.

How ICMSA defines a
eligible hectare

Every year, payments are lost or delayed due to issues with land eligibility. Areas of the farm that are deemed ineligible are often removed, such as brush, rushes, ponds, and farm roads. We believe that all of these characteristics should be considered eligible for calculation and we believe that such a simple act would represent real progress and improve biodiversity exponentially. It is to be welcomed that 30% of a plot can now be used for water protection, biodiversity or climate measures and the ICMSA is firmly of the opinion that brush, rushes, ponds, roads farm and other elements naturally fall within this definition and should be recognized.

Eco-schemes

In terms of design and effect, it will take a very high buy-in from all farmers if the ambitions behind the eco-programs are to be achieved and we think it is likely that the first year will decide whether or not the programs are going to be. act and perform as desired for the next four years.

The ICMSA has published several options which we believe should be considered options for the eco-diet and we believe that full debate should be given to each option. We also believe that the eco-schemes should be amended and refined according to the recommendations to farmers who will have to implement these options. People participating in the programs will know what works and what does not, and the programs must be flexible enough to accommodate this.

The terms and conditions of these options should be easy to implement, so that, for example, when applying for BISS, a farmer can simply choose which options they want to offer. ICMSA proposes that the top-ups be applied using unspent funds to those adopting additional eco-program options.

Pillar II interventions

  • ICMSA agri-environmental proposals:
  • Funding available to finance the participation of 70,000 farmers with payments of up to € 15,000 per farm.
  • Realistic options available for commercial farms.
  • Separate source of funding for “local project teams” and consultant training.
  • Guarantees for farmers adjoining land rewetting sites.
  • Viable markets identified for organic products.
  • As part of the proposed intervention for the Dairy Beef Social Protection Program, ICMSA welcomes the Minister’s commitment to this issue, but is concerned that the terms and conditions and payment rates may make the program unattractive. for farmers. It is essential that, given its climatic efficiency, the production of dairy beef is encouraged and that the greatest number of farmers benefit from this regime.

Investment regimes

The need for continued investments on the farm, both in terms of fixed structure facilities and mobile equipment, is quite obvious and should not be questioned.

However, at present, the dairy equipment program is not an option under this new intervention and ICMSA finds it remarkably inconsistent that a program that has such a wide range of laudable goals completely ignores the purchase of equipment that improves efficiency, animal and human health. and would most definitely help on all related issues.

ICMSA proposes that dairy investments be included in the on-farm capital investment program, that a 60% subsidy be available to all farmers and that a new investment ceiling of € 120,000 be applied. .

Generational renewal

Young farmers must be supported under the new CAP. It’s a no-problem statement.

However, ICMSA believes that older farmers must also be supported through and through the transition to the next generation of farmers. In this regard, ICMSA offers a dual approach, encouraging young farmers in the industry and encouraging older farmers to reduce their workload.

Conclusion

The CSP will define the major agricultural policies for the years to come and will be the economic, social and environmental context in which our sector is moving forward, stalling or reversing.

It defines the guide rails, the parameters within which we – and the whole massive agrifood edifice built on our work and our skills – operate and operate.

ICMSA focuses on two goals that we will bring to every discussion and debate on this most important issue.

First, the government must provide the maximum level of co-financing allowed and that payments under the schemes should be indexed in the future.

Second, it is essential that the CSP focus on family farms which depend on agriculture for their income and which play the decisive central role in the rural economy.

About Cassondra Durden

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