Speaking in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee where new CAP reform proposals were announced, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said:
“Expectations will no doubt be dashed today as Commissioner Hogan announces a lacklustre programme for CAP reform.
“Many options that were laid out in the last CAP reform, but were either not implemented or effective, have been wheeled out again, showing a complete lack of ambition or imagination to fix the current system.
“The leaked version of this Communication from October initially mooted a cap on payments of between €60,000 to €100,000.
“However these caps have completely vanished in the final document, possibly indicating pressure from those with a vested interest in preventing change.
“Proposals to increase subsidiarity and greater Member State responsibility are of course welcome, especially when we see how programmes like Greening have had such an uneven impact on farmers.
“However it remains to be seen how this new system fits into the Commission’s plans for simplification.
“Moving towards a system of Commission-approved strategic plans may just add another layer of bureaucracy between farmers and policies so that it becomes impossible to ensure both accountability and flexibility.
“Farmers in Ireland will be all too aware of this issue. The Irish Government’s decision to apply educational criteria for young farmer payments was somehow pushed back onto the blame of the Commission earlier this year. And the situation of the Old-Young farmers has never been resolved for similar reasons.
“Problems that emerge are ping-ponged back and forth between the Department and the Commission, with both failing to take the blame and both refusing to take action to resolve it.
“This paper is also deafeningly quiet on the Brexit funding hole. Farmers will no doubt be wondering how the new proposals fit into the €3bn CAP funding gap caused by Britain’s impending exit. It is massively disappointing that the Commission has refused to address this head on.
“Reports are show that in 2015 17.32% of total direct payments last year went to farmers in receipt of payments above €100,000.
“However these payments only went to 0.24% of farmers. If a cap of even €100,000 were strictly applied, upwards of €7bn could be saved and the UK’s CAP contribution absorbed. Yet there is no discussion on the CAP budget here at all.
“I welcome assurances that Direct Payments are to be protected. However we need to be clearer that the new focus on a results-based CAP does not shift payments even further away from smaller and more disadvantaged farmers.”