Written answers

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Common Agricultural Policy

Johnny Mythen (Wexford, Sinn Fein)
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575. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if CAP funds will be limited to €60,000 for corporate farm enterprises and wealthy landowners (details supplied). [13234/20]

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The CAP post-2020 legislative proposals set out a number of measures relating to distribution of payments. These include a proposal to implement a mandatory overall cap of €100,000, as well as degressivity, or gradual reductions, for payments above €60,000.  The capping proposal would apply to all farmers and not just those who may choose to operate as a company.

Ireland has previously indicated its willingness to implement capping.  Under the current CAP regulations, Ireland has already applied the maximum level of degressivity allowable for basic payments over €150,000.

My Department is carefully considering all aspects of the CAP proposals to assess their potential impact on applicants.  While the different elements of the capping proposal are part of the draft CAP proposals,  the issue of its mandatory application to direct payments is being considered as part of the overall budgetary discussions under the Multiannual Financial Framework.  These negotiations are ongoing and are running in parallel to the CAP post-2020 negotiations.

We still have some way to go before agreement is reached on both sets of proposals.  I will continue to work effectively with my European colleagues, with the Commission and with the European Parliament, to shape these proposals into an effective new CAP and secure the best possible outcome for the Irish agri-food sector.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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576. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to change the proposed objective in the new CAP 2021-2027 relating to GAEC2 from appropriate protection of wetland and peatland to retention and maintenance of the area of permanent grassland on farmed peatlands and wetlands, in view of the definition of strictly protected areas and the proposed quantity of them as outlined in the EU biodiversity strategy published on the 20 May 2020 and the definition of strict nature reserves in the International Union for Conservation of Nature categories; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12702/20]

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The CAP post-2020 proposals are detailed and complex, and negotiations are ongoing.  While significant progress has been made, decisions on a number of key issues have still to be made, particularly when it comes to the proposed CAP Strategic Plan Regulation.  One of these issues is the proposed new green architecture, which is aimed at achieving a higher level of climate ambition.

With regard to wetlands, Ireland already provides strict and rigorous protection to wetlands through our planning legislation.  Under the proposed CAP Strategic Plan Regulation, a new conditionality is introduced with a number of standards in relation to keeping land in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC), including a new GAEC2 aimed at protecting wetland and peatland ecosystems.  As negotiations are still ongoing, this text is still subject to change.   Ireland has requested clarification of the meaning of “protection”, and this will help to inform the implementation of measures at farm level.   

As regards links to the EU Biodiversity strategy, the strategy aims to increase the protected areas of land and sea across Europe to 30%. However, these are European-wide rather than individual Member State targets, and further clarity is awaited as to how these targets will be met by Member States.

The International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the global authority on status of nature and its conservation and works in support of the Ramsar convention on wetlands. Ireland is a signatory to the convention. In 2010 the Irish Ramsar wetlands committee was set up by the government to assist Ireland in meeting its commitments as a signatory. Membership of this committee is drawn from a range of relevant Departments, agencies, scientific and technical institutions, regional and local authorities and non governmental organisations.

My Department is in broad consultation with all relevant stakeholders regarding preparation of the CAP Strategic Plans.  The recent publication of the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and Biodiversity Strategy will have an impact on the future CAP, and the targets and actions set within them will need to be reflected in Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans. My Department officials and I will continue to actively participate in the CAP post 2020 process both at national and European level to secure the best possible outcome for the Irish agri-food sector, including the continued protection of wetlands and peatlands.

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