The President of ICMSA, John Comer, has repeated his organisation’s emphatic opposition to any suggestion of a Coupled Payment and he has stated that – in the absence of any new funding – the onus is squarely on those supporting any such Coupled Payment to explain “fully and unequivocally” what payments and schemes they propose cutting to fund any such payments. Mr Comer questioned the logic behind any further proposed cuts to SFPs and stated that the importance of the Single Farm Payment to dairy farmers cannot be understated.
“According to Teagasc, the 2012 Single Farm Payment, along with other direct payments, represented 33% of family farm income on specialist dairy farms. Given the full-time nature of dairy farming, it can be safely assumed that this represents 33% of total income from the farm. Indeed, in 2009, when milk price was low, direct payments represented 87% of family farm income on specialist dairy farms. This is a very sobering fact that clearly highlights the importance of direct payments to dairy farmers and the need for the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine to protect these payments going forward.”, said Mr Comer.
“It is clear at this stage that most dairy farmers are going to lose under the new regime. But the extent of the losses will be determined by decisions taken by Minister Coveney both in terms of the Single Farm Payment and Pillar II schemes such as Agri-environment and Disadvantaged Areas Schemes. In common with all farmers, the REPS and Disadvantaged Areas scheme were hugely important to dairy farmers and they have suffered heavily with the closure and reduction of payments in these schemes In relation to a proposed Coupled Payments, if the Minister takes this option, he is going to have to clearly spell out to farmers who he is going to take the funds from in order to set up these schemes; what existing schemes will be cut to introduce the new schemes; how much will be spent on the additional administration costs in relation to these schemes and how many more farm inspections will farmers be subject to. Farmers should also realise these schemes will attract new regulations and new bureaucracy. The reality is that to establish any such Coupled Payment scheme, farmers will end up paying by suffering further reductions in their the Single Farm Payments and other schemes such as the Disadvantaged Areas and Agri-environment schemes”, said Mr Comer
“ICMSA believes that against the background of the cuts already facing farmers, that a further 8% reduction to fund a Coupled Payment simply cannot be tolerated. The key issue facing the Minister is to target existing funds to those who are farming the land irrespective of whether it is dairy, sucklers, drystock, sheep or tillage. In this regard, a system focussing payments to those actively farming the land is required that does not mean additional inspections – and the obvious solution in this regard is to set a minimum stocking density for all farmers”, concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends. 30 August 2013.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office