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Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Supportive measures impact on small and medium-sized farming communities

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he will outline the beneficial effect to the small and medium-sized farming community of recent supportive measures; the impact on individual farmers under 50 acres and between 50 and 100 acres; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

I am committed to supporting farmers of all sizes and types in all parts of the country. I believe the incoming CAP is a well-funded and farmer-friendly CAP that will support our farm families over the next five years.

A range of measures are included in Ireland’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plan to benefit small and medium sized farms:

  • Complementary Redistribution Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS), which is often referred to as front loading, is designed to redistribute support towards small and medium sized farms. Member States have an obligation to allocate at least 10% of the Direct Payment fund to CRISS. In Ireland this will result in an allocation of approximately €118 million annually. Farmers will receive payment on their first 30 eligible hectares, redistributing support from larger to smaller or medium-sized farmers.
  • The convergence mechanism aims to bring payment entitlement values towards a national average value. Member States must ensure that, by 2026, at the latest, all payment entitlements should have a value of at least 85% of the new national average payment entitlement unit amount. Increases in the value of payment entitlements must be financed by reducing the value of payment entitlements that have values in excess of the national average.
  • Ireland’s CAP strategic plan also implements new rules on capping of payments, effectively limiting the maximum Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) payment to €66,000. Although it is forecast that relatively few farmers will be affected by this measure, proceeds from capping will be redistributed through CRISS.
  • The Complementary Income Support for Young Farmers (CISYF) supports young farmers under the age of 40 to establish their farming business. There will be continued prioritisation of young farmers and new entrants for allocations of payment entitlements from the National Reserve. Typically, young farmers commence their farming career with small to medium sized farms, these support measures aim to benefit them. Ireland will dedicate three percent of the Direct Payment envelope annually (circa €35m) to CISYF and qualifying young farmers will benefit by approximately €170 per hectare, up to a maximum of 50 hectares. This is greatly increased from the current payment that is attached to payment entitlements and currently is approximately €68 per entitlement.
  • The Eco-Scheme will be implemented annually with an allocation of approximately €297 million. It will provide support to farmers who undertake actions beneficial to the climate, environment, water quality and biodiversity. The Eco-Scheme will be optional for farmers to participate in and unlike greening, the Eco-Scheme will not be linked to payment entitlements and is payable on all eligible hectares that a farmer carries out the required actions ,on whether payment entitlements are held or not.


Table 1: Illustrates the 2022 Direct Payment per hectare compared to 2027 Direct Payment, with the percentage change and number of herds per hectare category.

Table 1 compares the current Direct Payment baseline against the Direct Payment per hectare estimated figures for 2027 and includes the relevant percentage change and the approximate number of herds in each of the categories.

It must be noted that in each category, there are beneficiaries and contributors, and the figure represents an accumulation of amounts within each category. The payment amounts shown in Table 1 are comprised of all Direct Payment schemes.

It should be stated that the modelling exercise used in the CAP Strategic Plan is not an exact forecast and is based around a number of assumptions. The modelling population is static, with the same population used for both the 2022 and 2027 payment estimates, while in reality this population is constantly changing, and this could impact the average value.

Finally, the model assumes full participation for all eligible applicants for all schemes, for example, all active farmers will be eligible to apply for the Eco-scheme regardless of whether they hold entitlements or not and payment will be made on eligible hectares claimed.

A key difference between this new CAP programme and the current programme is the clear environmental and redistribution ambition.

In addition, there is a shift away from dependence on linkages to payment entitlements making payments more accessible to farmers. In combination, these elements support the policy objective to ensure a fairer distribution and efficient targeting of direct payments to those farmers with small and medium sized farms.

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