CAP consultation an opportunity to tackle inequality in farm payments - Carthy
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West has urged Irish farmers to take part in the European Commission’s consultation on CAP 2020 which opened on Thursday. The opening of this consultation is timely, says Carthy, as it coincides with new data from the European Commission which shows that glaring inequalities in the roll out of CAP payments continue to persistent.
Speaking in Brussels as Commissioner Phil Hogan announced details of the CAP consultation Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“This consultation is timely coming as it does days after new data released by the Commission clearly shows that despite the aims of 2013 CAP reforms to redistribute funds more fairly, there are still huge inequalities in the system. The European Commission’s public consultation on CAP post 2020 is therefore a crucial starting point to start addressing these issues once and for all.
“The figures contained in the commission’s paper “Indicative figures on the distribution of direct aid payment to producers by Member State and category of beneficiaries for the year 2015” show that across Europe in 2015, 20% of the beneficiaries of direct payments are still receiving 80% of the payments.
"The largest portion of funding going to a few privileged landowners was something the European Commission had promised to target with 2013 reforms. When you look at countries like Denmark and the Czech Republic where there are almost 800 farmers receiving annual payments above €500,000 it is clear that the current system of CAP is still broken.
“In Ireland the vast number of farmers are receiving payments under €20,000 - the figures showing 60% of farmers receive direct payments under €10,000 and 88% under €20,000. However almost 50% of Ireland’s envelope for direct payments is going to those earning above that amount.
“The fact that there are still 261 beneficiaries getting over €100,000 in annual direct payments from EU funds while most other farmers struggle to get by, is astounding and morally unjustifiable. Sinn Féin has argued for years that there should be an upper limit on Direct Payments of between €50,000 and €100,000 in order to deliver fairness and equality into the system.
“The revision of CAP post-2020 is kicking off with this consultation at EU level and it is issues like this, among other issues like fairness for young farmers, forgotten farmers and disadvantaged area farmers that need to be highlighted in responses by Irish farmers.
“The most unfortunate thing in all of this is that this issue is nothing new. Inequality when it comes to Direct Payments is something the European Commission has failed to address with successive reforms since the 90s.
"There is now no justification for failing to introduce an upper limit on payments in order to increase payments to those farmers on lower incomes and allow them to sustain themselves into the future.
“In the next round of CAP there will be a huge battle to maintain the overall EU agricultural budget and to protect the national envelope coming to Ireland. The case of those of us who want to win those battles will be more difficult so long as the gross inequalities within the system persist.
“This consultation is an opportunity for Irish farmers to speak up about the failings in current CAP legislation. Over the next few months I will be engaging with farmers and farming organisations to ensure that these issues are addressed.”