Macra quick off the mark with CAP plans

Irish Examiner - Farming - - MACRA - Claire Sut­ton macra@ex­am­iner.ie

“If we are to be suc­cess­ful in tack­ling the de­mo­graphic and struc­tural chal­lenges in Ir­ish agri­cul­ture, a par­a­digm shift in CAP post-2020 is re­quired, in­clud­ing young farmer proof­ing of all as­pects of the CAP.” So said Macra na­tional pres­i­dent James Healy, as the or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­posed am­bi­tious changes to ad­dress struc­tural, com­pet­i­tive, and gen­er­a­tional chal­lenges in Ir­ish farm­ing. Fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion with 1,000 young farm­ers coun­try­wide, Macra is the first Ir­ish and Euro­pean farm or­gan­i­sa­tion to de­velop a pub­li­cally avail­able pol­icy doc­u­ment on the CAP post-2020.

To ad­dress the lack of young farm­ers in the in­dus­try, the or­gan­i­sa­tion calls for a min­i­mum of 10% of the to­tal CAP bud­get to be ded­i­cated to gen­er­a­tional re­newal and young farmer mea­sures.

Suc­cess­fully in­volved with FBD Trust in the Land Mo­bil­ity Ser­vice which goes from strength to strength, Macra in its pol­icy doc­u­ment sup­ports ac­cess to land through the Ru­ral Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme, and in­tro­duc­tion of a farm suc­ces­sion plan that en­cour­ages older farm­ers to col­lab­o­rate with younger farm­ers.

The pol­icy pa­per also pro­poses abo­li­tion of the “five year rule” and sug­gests changes to the ac­tive farmer def­i­ni­tion to en­sure pay­ments are tar­geted at ac­tive farm­ers. Macra does not favour his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ence year pay­ments, an “out­dated“bar­rier to young farm­ers. In­stead, the or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­poses a new four-way bud­getary split for direct pay­ments, with 40% tar­geted at eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity, 30% at cli­mate change and en­vi­ron­ment, 20% at farm busi­ness devel­op­ment mea­sures, and 10% at young farm­ers.

For young farm­ers to off­set es­tab­lish­ment costs, the Macra pol­icy con­tains de­tails of a manda­tory start-up aid pack­age.

Start-up aid would be avail­able for vouched ex­pen­di­ture and nec­es­sary cap­i­tal in­puts and in­vest­ments at es­tab­lish­ment.

Macra calls for manda­tory young farmer top-ups (once es­tab­lished) for all those up to the age of 40 that meet young farmer def­i­ni­tion cri­te­ria, and a con­tin­u­ously funded Na­tional Re­serve to pro­vide young farm­ers un­der the age of 40 with na­tional aver­age pay­ment en­ti­tle­ments. Also pro­posed in the doc­u­ment are in­tro­duc­tion of fi­nan­cial in­stru­ments to make al­ter­na­tive sources of credit avail­able; ad­dress­ing mar­ket fail­ures; a new voucher sys­tem for knowl­edge trans­fer; re­sult-based en­vi­ron­men­tal schemes; mea­sures to boost farmer health, safety and well­be­ing; and farm im­prove­ment mea­sures such as a graz­ing in­fra­struc­ture scheme. Macra also makes the case for a bud­getary in­crease for the CAP.

Aw­beg Macra’s Set Danc­ing team who won their sec­tion of the Cork County round of the Na­tional Tal­ent Com­pe­ti­tion last week­end.

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