Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (327)

Richard Boyd Barrett


327. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures in place to ensure that all grants for struggling small to medium-sized farms are prioritised over larger and more profitable farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7505/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

There are a number of measures in place intended to ensure that payments and grants are prioritised to small and medium sized farms.

Within Pillar I of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) has a number of measures in place in this regard. Convergence is a mechanism whereby the value of payment entitlements move away from historic reference points towards the national average value for all farmers, large and small. The payment for Greening is linked to the value of payment entitlements, which has resulted in changes to Greening payments as the payment entitlements converged under BPS towards the national average value over the period 2015 - 2019.

The reduction of payments, also known as capping, means that any one farming enterprise cannot receive a BPS payment greater than €150,000. This is the most stringent capping limit available to Member States under the current regulations. Under the Young Farmers Scheme, these additional payments are made on the first 50 hectares held by a farmer and also under the National Reserve payment entitlement allocations or top-ups are made on the first 90 hectares only.

Within CAP Pillar II, payment rates per Hectare under the Areas of Natural Constrain Scheme (ANC) are frontloaded in favour of smaller farm sizes. Scheme details are available on the Department's website. In relation to on-farm investments, applications may be submitted by all eligible farmers. Approvals issue in accordance with the established ranking and selection criteria, full details of which are available on the Department’s website. Valid payment claims are generally approved for payment in the order in which they are submitted.

Negotiations on the new CAP Regulations are continuing at EU level. So far, these discussions have included issues such as further capping and convergence of payments and a small farmer scheme as well as new proposals for greater re-distribution of direct payments within CAP Pillar 1. The final shape of the new CAP will not be known until the negotiations are finalised.