The new CAP places a particular focus on promoting the participation of women in the social economic development of rural areas, with special attention to farming. Gender equality is also a key objective of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and a priority for me, as Minister.
I am pleased, therefore, to be proposing the highest level of direct supports for women farmers in any CAP programme in Ireland. In addition to the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) proposal, these include women-only Knowledge Transfer (KT) Groups; and a call under the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) initiative for proposals to examine women’s participation in agriculture.
On the new CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), the Department has been actively engaging with stakeholders throughout the process of developing the new plan. The SWOT analysis and Needs assessment helped to shape the CSP draft interventions that were then followed by a five-week public consultation in September 2021 with over 1,000 responses received.
The proposed On-Farm Capital investment Scheme is in the process of development and is subject to the formal approval of the European Commission.
As outlined in the draft CSP, it provides for a general grant rate of 40% for eligible investments. It is also proposed in the CSP that eligible female farmers, who meet the eligibility criteria may qualify for grant aid at a rate of 60%. It is currently being proposed that eligible female farmers are those:
- Aged between 18 years of age and 55 at any time during the calendar year in which she submits an application for support;
- Meet the conditions for being head and having control of the holding;
- Meets the requirements for the appropriate training and/or skills required at the time of applications.
Applicants who do not meet the criteria above will still remain eligible to submit an application under the On-Farm Capital investment scheme at the standard rate of 40%. No decision has been made on the details of how registered farm partnerships will operate under the new On-Farm Capital Investment scheme.
Measures in the CSP are complemented by the new stakeholder strategy for the Irish agri-food sector, Food Vision 2030, which recognises the important contribution of women to the sector's long-term sustainability and includes a number of actions to promote and improve gender balance at all levels. It also proposes holding a national dialogue on women in agriculture.
I have asked my officials to prioritise this dialogue for next year.
More can be done on this important issue and I am committed to delivering greater equality in the Irish agri-food sector.