Complete flattening of Single Farm Payments would not be an equitable outcome to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and fairness had to be at the core of the eventual agreement.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin at a public meeting she organised in Athlone on Friday, February 8th.
She told the audience that she had engaged in a series of meetings with officers of farmers’ organisations and farmers in general in order to reach a conclusion on what would be a fair distribution of the Single Farm Payment for the future.
She said “Given the fact that we now have an agreement on the amount of money Ireland will receive under both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the CAP its time to have an informed and mature discussion about individual allocations within Ireland. Up to now much of our effort within the European Parliament and within the European Council has been to maintain the size of the CAP budget and within that to ensure the best possible deal for Ireland. Now that this has been achieved we need to grapple with the thorny issue of the distribution of that money within Ireland. It is no longer reasonable that the Single Farm Payment should be tied to production during the reference years of 2000, 2001 and 2002.
“Unfortunately there has been too little public discussion on the issue of the Single Farm Payment and there is a need for farmers to become much more involved in the issue in the immediate months ahead including engaging with their public representatives at all levels including MEPs who will be voting on CAP reform in March”, she said.
The North & West MEP was adamant that, although she opposed the flattening of overall Single Farm Payments, she totally supported the flattening of greening payments. “Why should one farmer have a greening payment between three and six times per hectare greater than his neighbour for completing exactly the same greening requirement? We also need to deal with the situation where two farmers bid for the same animal at the mart and one has the advantage of having a much greater per hectare payment to spend.
She called for fairness to be central to the eventual decision on the Single Farm Payment. “This should reflect the fact that all farmers can be productive and those who have to farm marginal land, often getting their cattle out to grass two months later than those on better quality land, deserve due consideration in the Single Farm Payment policy of the future”, Marian Harkin MEP concluded.