Written answers

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Industry

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

379. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers nationally referred to as the forgotten farmers (details supplied) by county, in tabular form; and the estimated full-year cost of increasing the value of entitlements to the national average for these farmers. [20366/19]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The information sought is currently being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

380. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the funding avenues available to accommodate the forgotten farmers under the specific disadvantage category of the national reserve and the approval of the European Commission; and if he has made such a request to the European Commission. [20367/19]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The National Reserve in 2017 was established using funding derived from a linear cut to the value of all farmers’ entitlements. EU Regulations pertaining to the National Reserve provide that the two categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’ must receive priority access to the Reserve. In the context of the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government, Ireland consulted with the EU Commission regarding the possibility of including the Forgotten Farmer group under the specific disadvantage category of the 2017 National Reserve. The EU Commission confirmed that Member States could not use the proceeds of a linear cut to fund a specific disadvantage category of the National Reserve.

The Commission confirmed at the time that the only funding option for the specific disadvantage category was natural replenishment of the Reserve, such as from unused entitlements or the proceeds of clawback, but only after the two priority categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’ had been catered for.

EU Regulation 2393/2017 (Omnibus Regulation) came into effect in January 2018 and introduced a new possibility for the inclusion of ‘Specific Disadvantage’ categories such as Forgotten Farmers into the National Reserve. From 2018 Member States may use the proceeds of a linear cut to fund ‘Specific Disadvantage’ categories of the Reserve, but only if a linear cut is required to fund the two priority categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’ in that particular year. As there was sufficient funding available in the National Reserve in 2018 and 2019 from natural replenishment of the fund in order to cater for the two priority categories, the issue of a linear cut did not arise.

Decisions in relation to the National Reserve, including the basis of funding the Reserve, are made in consultation with the Direct Payments Advisory Committee which comprises members of the main farming organisations, farm advisory and education services.

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

381. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if it is technically possible to accommodate the forgotten farmers group under the specific disadvantage category of the national reserve by using unused funds from Pillars 1 and 2 to finance; and if it is possible under the CAP to transfer funds from Pillars 1 to 2 and vice versa to fund such initiatives. [20368/19]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

In relation to the provision of funding for groups classified under the specific disadvantage category, my Department has been in consultation with the European Commission.

The National Reserve must allocate funds initially to the priority categories of young farmer and new entrant. The European Commission advised that it is possible to provide funds for a specific disadvantage grouping from the national reserve. Each of the specific disadvantage groups must receive approval by the Commission.

My Department also queried with the Commission if a linear cut to the value of all payments made under the Basic Payment Scheme could be used to fund the National Reserve to an extent needed for the forgotten farmers. The Commission confirmed that my Department could not do this and could only use the funding available from natural replenishment, once the priority categories were fully funded. Funds are naturally replenished from unused payment entitlements and claw-back on trading entitlements without land.

In 2018, the Omnibus regulation made a provision for the allocation of funds for specific disadvantage groups from a linear cut to all payments made under the Basic Payment Scheme, provided that a linear cut was required to fund payments made to the priority categories under the National Reserve. However, a linear cut was not required to fund the National Reserve in 2018 or 2019.

Furthermore, Article 14 of EU Regulation 1307/2013 sets out the circumstances surrounding the flexibility between pillars. Ireland opted not to avail of the flexibility between pillars which under the regulation had to be notified to the Commission before 31 December 2013.

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

382. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he and his EU ministerial counterparts are seeking increased funding flexibilities in order to accommodate forgotten farmers (details supplied) under the specific disadvantage category of the national reserve; if the proposed capping of BPS payments is agreed if proceeds from such capping would be permitted to fund forgotten farmers into the national reserve; and if this avenue has been confirmed with the European Commission by him. [20369/19]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The current Regulations governing the operation of the National Reserve include an optional provision whereby Member States may use the National Reserve to allocate new entitlements or give a top-up on the value of existing entitlements for persons who suffer from a specific disadvantage.

The National Reserve in 2017 was established using funding derived from a linear cut to the value of all farmers’ entitlements. EU Regulations pertaining to the National Reserve provide that the two categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’ must receive priority access to the Reserve. In the context of the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government, Ireland consulted with the EU Commission regarding the possibility of including the forgotten farmer group under the specific disadvantage category of the 2017 National Reserve. The EU Commission confirmed that Member States could not use the proceeds of a linear cut to fund a specific disadvantage category of the National Reserve.

The Commission confirmed at the time that the only funding option for the specific disadvantage category was natural replenishment of the National Reserve, such as from unused entitlements or the proceeds of clawback, but only after the two priority categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’ had been catered for.

EU Regulation 2393/2017 (Omnibus Regulation) came into effect in January 2018 and introduced a new possibility for the inclusion of ‘Specific Disadvantage’ categories such as forgotten farmers into the National Reserve. From 2018, Member States may use the proceeds of a linear cut to fund ‘Specific Disadvantage’ categories of the Reserve, but only if a linear cut is required to fund the two priority categories of ‘young farmer’ and ‘new entrant to farming’ in that particular year. As there was sufficient funding available in the National Reserve in 2018 and 2019 from natural replenishment of the fund in order to cater for the two priority categories, the issue of a linear cut did not arise.

Decisions in relation to the National Reserve, including the basis of funding the National Reserve, are made in consultation with the Direct Payments Advisory Committee which comprises members of the main farming organisations, farm advisory and education services.

The new legislative proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy 2021 - 2027 were launched on Friday 1 June 2018 by Commissioner Hogan. There will be additional discretion for Member States in configuring the measures available, within parameters laid down in the draft proposals.

Significant changes are being proposed in the draft legislation, particularly when it comes to the area of direct payments. The new proposals include a number of measures relating to distribution of payments, including an overall cap of €100,000, degressivity for payments above €60,000 and a complementary redistributive income support scheme.

I have already indicated that I am open to some level of capping. Ireland has already applied the maximum level of degressivity allowable under the current regulations for direct payments over €150,000.

Currently, the proposals state that the product of the reduction of direct payments, via capping, shall primarily be used to contribute to the financing of the proposed complementary redistributive income support for sustainability and thereafter, to other interventions, belonging to decoupled direct payments.

My Department is at present examining these proposals carefully to assess their potential impact on all applicants. We need to ensure that any such mechanisms will be simple and straightforward for Member States to administer and that they can be implemented without undue complexity for the farmer.

These are complex proposals. We are in the midst of intensive and challenging negotiations and we still have some way to go before agreement on the proposals will be reached. I will continue to work with the Commission and other Member States to shape these proposals into an effective new CAP.

Comments

No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.