Carthy welcomes CAP vote but cautions that further progress needed to deliver equality for farmers
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has welcomed the support for hastened moves towards equality on farm payments per hectare in key vote on the Common Agricultural Policy. Speaking in Brussels, following a vote on the CAP post-2020 in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Carthy said:
“Inequalities in farm payments has long been a controversial issue in Ireland as some farm enterprises receive significantly more per hectare than many farm families based on the system of historical entitlements.
“Under the current CAP, no farms in Ireland should have been receiving more than €700 per hectare in EU subsidies by 2019. However, there are still many farmers receiving less than €100 per hectare. Such a disparity is unfair and unsustainable. Today’s vote calls for full convergence on payments per hectare by 2026 – a massive win for those on lower incomes.
“For the majority of farmers in my Midlands North West constituency this vote will be significant. Farmers, especially in the western and border counties receive some of the lowest payments in the country and redistribution could be the difference between staying on the land or being forced out of agriculture.
“However there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality in farming.
“Sinn Féin has supported an upper limit of €60,000 for basic payments, with farmers having the option of topping up their payments through participation in environmental schemes. This would allow for front loaded payments that would offer additional support proportionally for smaller and medium sized farms. In today’s vote, Fine Gael’s political group significantly weakened this ambition so that direct payments will be capped at €100,000 with loopholes that will allow payments even above this limit. Even this adoption of the redistributive payment will allow the Irish Government to supplement small to medium farmers with an increased front-loaded payment.
“I am also disappointed by the lack of progress for Young Farmers. Amendments I put forward calling for 3% of Pillar 1 to be dedicated to Young Farmers did not receive the necessary support during the negotiation stage, so this figure will remain at 2%.
“In some respects there are still a lot of unknowns about the new CAP. National Governments are set to gain additional control over environmental schemes, as well as the setting of targets. As farmers are well aware based on their experience with Greening, these schemes have the potential to frustrate and ultimately prove worthless in terms of impact if the approach is not right.
“The vote today comes close to the end of this Parliamentary term, so while it makes an important statement on the importance to deliver equality, the final outcome of the 2020-2027 programming period will likely not be finalised until the next mandate of parliament. Therefore it is imperative that Ireland is represented by progressive MEPs that will demand fairness for our family farmers and that is one of the reasons why it is imperative that farmers support Sinn Féin in the European elections in May.
“In the meantime the Irish government’s position in the European Council will be crucial. Any attempt to dilute the Parliament’s position on convergence must be resisted and the government must be clear and upfront on its position to deliver maximum equality in farm payments”.