Thursday, 21 October 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
12. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the average value of each basic payment scheme, BPS, entitlement per county in 2019 and 2020, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51679/21]
I ask the Minister to provide the average value of each BPS entitlement per county in 2019 and 2020, respectively. I do not know if he will list every single county, but perhaps he might list a few counties at the top, a few counties at the middle and a few counties at the bottom. Of course, I have a particular interest in County Clare.
I apologise to Deputy McNamara as while I have some of the overall details, I do not have the full list by county, including County Clare, but it will be forwarded to the Deputy. The variation in the county breakdown of average entitlement values is centred on the country average of approximately €185. That is before greening, which obviously is in addition to that. The minimum value was seen in Leitrim in both years with an average entitlement value of €151 in 2019 and €152 in 2020. The national average is €185 and Leitrim was the lowest at €152 in 2020.
The highest county average value in 2019 was in Kilkenny with an average value of €210 and in 2020 the highest average value was seen in Wexford at almost €210. The national average is €185; the highest was €210 and the lowest was €152 last year. The values varied very little from 2019 to 2020 in each county, with a maximum difference of just over €1 observed.
I refer here to the payment entitlement value only, with the vast majority of farmers also receiving the greening payment in addition to the entitlement value, which is an additional 44% of the entitlement value and obviously it is proportionate to the entitlement value. Grassland farmers are generally green by definition and therefore receive this greening payment automatically. Farmers in some other sectors must meet scheme terms and conditions to receive the greening payment.
A full table with the county breakdown will issue to the Deputy. Variation is from €152 to €210, with €185 being the average.
It is interesting, but not surprising, that the lowest is in the west and the highest is in the south east. I wonder if that is a general trend. I appreciate that the Minister does not have the figures and as I said at the outset, I did not expect him to have them all. Is that a general trend? It is interesting that the greening is a percentage of the entitlement. While agriculture per acre might be more productive in certain parts of the country than in others purely because they are gifted with better land and there is very little that can be done about that, there may be more environmental benefits to the type of farming in other parts of the country but that benefit is not being seen by those farmers. I ask this in the context of the debate on convergence and what we plan to do about greening measures. The information that we have to hand needs to feed into policy.
That was the situation with greening with the outgoing CAP. As the Deputy knows, the eco schemes are being introduced now as part of Pillar 1, accounting for a proposed 25% this time around, which will be totally disconnected from entitlement value and will be paid at a flat rate per hectare.
While I do not have the full table here, the divergence might not be quite as large on a county basis as people might think, even though it is significant. That gap will be closing in the time ahead because we will be moving to 85% convergence over the course of the next CAP. In addition, there is the flattening impact of the eco scheme and the flattening impact of front-loading, with 25% in the eco scheme and an additional 10% in front-loading. That 35% will flatten immediately from the start of the next CAP and the remainder will flatten to 85% over the course of the period.
In counties, such as Clare with more small and medium-sized farms, the front-loading will have a significant impact and that will add an additional €42 per entitlement on the first 30 ha. I know that will affect a number of farmers in the Deputy's county.
The Minister made a point about small and medium-sized farmers, which is a bit of a misnomer. Will the environmental measures be capped at a certain size of farm? Someone could have a large holding of marginal land while someone else might have a much smaller holding of more productive land. If it is capped, it will penalise the person with the marginal land. For example, the Burren is productive and is renowned obviously, but it takes a sizeable acreage to feed a herd of cattle. Similarly, someone might have a large chunk of land in Slieve Aughty which looks fantastic on paper until one actually goes and sees the land. Someone with much smaller acreage could have more productive land. Capping it at a certain acreage or even having a sliding scale could be counterproductive to what the Minister is hoping to achieve.
The objective behind the eco scheme is to achieve an environmental result from it and it is about how the land is managed. There is a flat rate per hectare for that. It is not a straightforward direct payment; it is for how the farmer manages the land. Therefore, it is logical that the eco scheme aspect of it applies to all the land being managed. The proposal is that it will apply to all the land that is being managed in that way under the eco scheme the farmer chooses.