Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
I thank Mr. Gleeson and his officials. We will all raise the concerns Deputy McConalogue has raised. Every time we talk about the CAP, we talk about simplification. However, Mr. Gleeson's submission did not indicate that any simplification coming down the line. If anything, it is becoming more bureaucratic and complex.
As Deputy McConalogue said, in real terms the budget will drop significantly for farmers. It is a huge percentage of their income. The €400 million crisis fund that was paid back every year will be taken out of the bottom line as well. That is another cut to what was available to be redistributed in the single farm payment. Every time we see something happening, it is reducing the pot for both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2. There will be agreement around this table that we have to fight on our backs to maintain the budget at its present level at least. Could Mr. Gleeson outline the political background to the member states that are not in favour of additional contributions to maintain the budget? What possibility is there of political pressure ensuring changes to that?
A total of 2% being set aside for young farmers. It is hard to disagree with that as we have to attract young people into farming. However, that will result in a cut to other individual farmers' payments. How is it proposed to distribute that? The ceiling on single farm payments, in the way it is worded and designed, will have no impact on the amount that will be available to redistribution to other farmers. There will be loopholes and, therefore, it will have no financial impact whatsoever.
There is a strong case to be made for a stricter ceiling to put on payments when the budget is under such pressure. That is something that we as a country should seriously look at.
On the environmental side, we were greening the last time round and now we will have a mandatory environmental scheme. I would make the same point as Deputy McConalogue. Will intensive farmers qualify for that? At the end of the day, the point should not be lost that the intensive farmers are more than likely farming full time and if obstacles were put in front of them in assessing their single farm payment, it would have serious implications.
Is APS and intervention to remain as it was? In 2018, a change was made whereby there was no skimming power purchased into intervention at a fixed price. Will that be reversed? Can we be guaranteed that that will not be interfered with going forward?
The active farmer will work out at the same as the ceiling. There will be nothing put in there that will have any financial impact on farmers receiving their single farm payment. I do not say it is easy. It is hard to put a wording in place because one could have a person with a small acreage who is farming it effectively but who has to have other income to survive and the fairness of disallowing him or her would be hard to question. However, there are many big outfits in this country and to allow them access the single farm payment in the same way as smaller operations has to be analysed and questioned. We have some big units now and when a budget is under pressure like this, we have to examine whether it is fair that some can access significant payments and operate under different companies and everything else. It is all going into the same bucket but it will come under different rules. If there is a financial impact, we must be more stringent in our definitions.