Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (1017)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1017. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the European Committee of the Regions proposal for a gradual shift from a basic CAP payment per hectare to a basic payment linked to the number of active persons and for direct payments to be funnelled as a matter of priority to small and medium sized agroecological farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8358/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The European Commission launched its proposals on the reform of the CAP in June 2018. In October 2020, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament adopted their respective positions on the Commission proposals.

Trilogue negotiations between the three institutions, which are aimed at reaching a final shared agreement on the shape of the new CAP, commenced at the end of 2020 and are expected to run for some time yet.

The Council General Approach that I have supported provides for the provision of basic payments to farmers based on a system of entitlements or on a rate per hectare, depending on the system applied by the individual Member States.

The overwhelming majority of Irish farms are family farms operated by a farmer, whether part-time or full-time, assisted by other family members. Only a minority of farms are of such a size and output that they employ additional labour. Therefore, it is unlikely that any system relating payment to the number of additional farm workers would be appropriate, bearing in mind the national farm structures.

The Council General approach provides for a number of options for redistribution, giving Member States the necessary flexibility to put in place appropriate national measures. These include further convergence of direct payments, capping and reduction of payments, and the Complementary Redistributive Support for Sustainability, which would allow extra payments on the first hectares of a holding. My officials are examining these possibilities, and this work will continue in close consultation with all stakeholders.