CAP shaping up to be “not just neutral but worse” say ICMSA’s McCormack.

The President of ICMSA has said that the imminent CAP is shaping up to be “not just neutral but worse”. Pat McCormack said that based on the most up-to-date reports we were headed towards a situation where thousands of farm families across the entire country will suffer substantial cuts to their direct payments in addition to new and unsurpassed levels of inspection and regulation.

“Based on what we’re hearing as of now, we’re headed towards less payments for much more regulation and absolutely nothing for meaningful sustainability. The current CAP proposals will deliver for consultants and people involved in enforcement but will critically undermine farmers unless the Minister brings a sense of realism to the debate and delivers a CAP for sustainable farming”, said Mr. McCormack.

The ICMSA President said he is very concerned that the CAP debate is being hijacked by vested interests – including within Government – who were intent on turning CAP into an unworkable environmental exercise.  

“The Government in general, and our Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine in particular, have to get a hold of this issue. They could start by remembering that the primary purpose of CAP is to deliver safe and sustainable food from a farm sector while ensuring proportionate incomes for the farmer primary-producers”, said Mr. McCormack.

Based on the documents presented at the CAP Consultative Committee, the current proposals from the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine are heavily weighted towards consultant input at farm level, inspection, regulation and enforcement, while being notably light on the funding for the farmers expected to carry out this work.  Mr. McCormack said that the level of reality being brought to the question had actually declined: “It was always frankly unrealistic to ask farmers to do much, much, more for the same payment. But the suggestion now is that the farmers do much, much, more for much less money. This is the kind of nonsense that’s just bringing the whole question of CAP into disrepute and making it absurd.”

The ICMSA President said that the notion that convergence will deliver for small and medium sized farmers is completely wrong and that, “in fact”, the big gainers under convergence would be those people – very often non-farmers – who own or lease substantial areas of land.

“There is a flawed debate and flawed reasoning around convergence. If people are serious about protecting small and medium sized farmers then the focus needs to move from the payment-per-hectare to the overall payment received by farmers. For instance, the promoters of the current convergence model need to answer a simple question: How is it fair that a person who is receiving a total payment of €10,000 will see their payment cut – in many cases substantially – to fund a person receiving €50,000? Because that’s going to be the net effect of the proposed change.  In addition, how is it fair that a person leasing their entitlements will see their entitlements increase at the expense of people who are farming? The anomalies in convergence are beyond reason and the Eco-Schemes in Pillar 1 are in danger of simply not being taken up by farmers due to unreasonable demands.  In terms of Pillar 11, farmers again appear to face a bureaucratic nightmare and put bluntly, Pillar 11 also needs to be re-focussed to those farmers producing food and contributing to their local economy. Overall, our worst suspicions that sustainable commercial farming is being undermined by ill-informed and unfair commentary are being borne out.”

ICMSA felt that unrealistic and ridiculous demands are being placed on farmers and the current CAP proposals suggested that the Government endorsed that policy.  

“It’s time for some realism and this must be based on the maximum level of co-funding from our Government. We need a convergence model that protects farmers with a low overall payment. We need an ECO scheme that is simple and properly rewards farmers. We need a clear definition of a ‘genuine farmer’ that ensures only people genuinely farming get a payment. And we need a refocussed Pillar 11 supporting farmers who produce food sustainably from an economic, social and environmental perspective. It’s never too late to do the right thing”, concluded Mr. McCormack.

Ends      26 May 2021.

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office