Around 200 farms to be af­fected by €100,000 CAP limit

Irish Examiner - - News - Seán McCárthaigh

Just un­der 200 Ir­ish farms will be af­fected by one of the main pro­pos­als to re­form the EU’s Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy which will set a cap of €100,000 on pay­ments to farm­ers.

Re­search by the Oireach­tas’ Par­lia­men­tary Bud­get Of­fice shows the pro­posed in­tro­duc­tion of a €100,000 ceil­ing from 2020 has the po­ten­tial to di­rectly im­pact on only 199 out of more than 124,000 Ir­ish farm­ers who re­ceived pay­ments un­der CAP.

How­ever, they are threat­ened with los­ing more than €6.6m in in­come each year un­der the pro­posed re­form of CAP, with an av­er­age an­nual re­duc­tion of €33,211.

Half of the to­tal is ac­counted by farm­ers from five coun­ties: Cork, Meath, Wex­ford, Tip­per­ary and Kil­dare. They in­clude 27 farm­ers based in Cork who are set to lose more than €1.1m in in­come — an av­er­age of €40,994 each.

There are also plans to al­low in­di­vid­ual EU states to lower the level of sub­sidy to farm­ers re­ceiv­ing over €60,000 per an­num in di­rect pay­ments from the EU. The main aim of the pro­posal which will see the over­all CAP bud­get re­duced by at least 5% is to cut the size of fi­nan­cial sup­ports to the EU’s largest farm­ers. It comes af­ter fig­ures showed that 20% of farm­ers re­ceived around 80% of di­rect pay­ments un­der the pre­vi­ous re­form of CAP in­tro­duced in 2013.

Only 1.4% of Ir­ish farm­ers get pay­ments over €50,000 but they ac­count for al­most 10% of all such pay­ments.

The re­search shows that more than 40% of all pay­ments go to less than 12% of farm­ers while al­most 70% of all farm­ers re­ceive less than €10,000 per an­num from the EU.

Ire­land re­ceived €1.54bn un­der CAP last year (2.6% of the en­tire CAP bud­get) of which €1.2bn was in di­rect pay­ments to farm­ers.

It is es­ti­mated that the im­pact of Brexit with the loss of the UK con­tri­bu­tion will re­duce the an­nual CAP bud­get, which was €58.9bn last year, by around €3bn.

The fig­ures show 80% of CAP fund­ing for Ire­land goes to­wards di­rect pay­ments to farm­ers. Ir­ish farm­ers are heav­ily de­pen­dent on EU sub­si­dies with 56% of av­er­age fam­ily farm in­come com­ing from di­rect pay­ments from CAP funds.

The fig­ure ranges from 22% for dairy farm­ers to over 100% for farm­ers rear­ing cat­tle and sheep.

“A de­pen­dency that is over 100% of in­come in­di­cates that this sec­tor is eco­nom­i­cally vul­ner­a­ble and is trad­ing at a loss,” the re­port said.

Sev­eral coun­ties in­clud­ing Leitrim, Long­ford, Sligo, Done­gal, West­meath and Laois are al­most en­tirely de­pen­dent on CAP di­rect sup­ports for in­come.

The lat­est fig­ures show av­er­age fam­ily farm in­come in Ire­land is €31,442 of which CAP con­trib­utes €17,569. It com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age wage of €37,646.

There are also re­gional vari­a­tions in depen­dence on EU sub­si­dies with farm­ers in Con­nacht and Ul­ster en­tirely de­pen­dent on CAP pay­ments com­pared to 83% of farm­ers in Le­in­ster and 65% of farm­ers in Mun­ster.

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