I thank the Deputy for the question. It is a bit rich to be talking about hiding. Every time he talks about convergence, I do not see too many Sinn Féin Deputies from certain parts of the country fronting up, or in his company. However, I thank the Deputy for the question.
These are the first oral questions since the agreement last month, which was really important. It happened at the end of June when the Council of Agriculture Ministers reached political agreement with the European Parliament on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. It is a fair, farmer-friendly and, critically, a flexible CAP deal. The agreement strikes the right balance in seeking to ensure a fair distribution of payments between farmers, while also supporting the agriculture sector to achieve a higher level of environmental and climate ambition.
Significant flexibility is given to member states to achieve this, in accordance with their own national circumstances. This flexibility was one of my key objectives in the negotiations. I am pleased to have secured flexibility to best serve our farmers.
Specifically, on the targeting and redistribution of payments, the agreement provides for voluntary capping of direct payments at €100,000, with member states also free to reduce payments above €60,000 by up to 85%, a policy that I fought very hard for. Internal convergence of payments will continue with each entitlement value to reach a minimum of 85% of the national average value by 2026. A mandatory redistribution of 10% of direct payments funding to small- and medium-sized farmers is also provided for, with a derogation for member states where they can demonstrate that their redistribution needs can be satisfied by other measures in Pillar 1.
I will consult widely with farmers on how we best apply this flexibility to address these issues at national level. The overall draft strategic plan and draft environmental report will also be subject to a further statutory public consultation and environmental assessment later this year. I will continue to update the Oireachtas this in this regard, including through the Joint Committee-----