Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (586)

Tom Fleming


586. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures that will be put in place to ensure the viability of and livelihood protection for mountain farmers in the new rural funding programme 2014-20; if he will ensure enhanced single farm payment for these farmers in that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5690/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Mountain farmers generally hold low value entitlements under the current Single Payment Scheme and will benefit significantly from the process of convergence that will take place under the Basic Payment Scheme that will take effect in 2015. The ‘Partial Convergence’ model, while initially retaining the link with current payments under the Single Payment Scheme, gradually moves all farmers towards a national average value over the five years of the new scheme. The purpose of this model is to achieve a phased redistribution of payments between those who currently hold high value entitlements and those who hold low value entitlements.

All farmers are guaranteed that by 2019 the value of their entitlements will at a minimum reach 60% of the national average entitlement value. In addition, while the present Grassland Sheep Scheme will come to an end, I have decided to incorporate the value of those payments into the calculation of entitlement value in 2015 for those farmers who received that payment. As with convergence, this provision will be to the advantage of mountain farmers many of whom specialise in sheep farming. They will in effect continue to benefit from the value of those payments.

Under the proposed new rural development programme for the period 2014 – 20120 [RDP] there are a range of support measures being considered. As part of this process my Department has published a consultation document outlining proposed measures for inclusion in the new RDP.

Under the new RDP the main areas proposed for support are:

- a substantial new agri-environment/climate scheme (GLAS), which will build on the progress made under REPS and AEOS. This will provide for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions,

- continued strong support for disadvantaged areas (now Areas of Natural Constraint), to the tune of about €195 million per year,

- incentives for on-farm capital investment,

- knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions,

- a new beef data and genomics measure worth up to €52 million per year aimed at improving the genetic quality of the beef herd,

- a separate strand of the support for on-farm capital investment will be ring-fenced for young farmers at a higher rate of aid intensity of 60% and

- other supports aimed at collaborative farming, artisan producers, organic farming etc.

The proposed measure outlines are available on my Department’s website and will form the basis for a public consultation. Written submissions are being sought by the deadline of the 19 February 2014. This consultation process will be a key step in designing a draft RDP for submission to the EU Commission for their approval.