Deputy Martin Kenny
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson, Martin Kenny TD has described the newly revealed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposals as disappointing for farmers and not meeting the needs of rural Ireland.
The proposals were launched by Commissioner Hogan last week in Brussels and Deputy Kenny was briefed in Dublin.
Deputy Kenny said, "At the launch of the CAP proposals in the EU offices in Dublin, officials representing Commissioner Phil Hogan set out proposals and took questions.
"The plight of small and medium-sized farming enterprises was stressed as a priority, which, on the face of it, is very welcome. There was talk of allowing member states more scope to design the programmes and that the focus would be on measuring outcomes rather than actions.
"However, I am disappointed that the proposals do not meet the needs of the farmer or rural Ireland.
"Sinn Féin has long sought proper reform of CAP to make the family farm sustainable and to put a floor under the income of farmers working more marginal land and in the less profitable, yet vital sectors, like sucklers and sheep.
"In our submission on CAP we sought a set upper limit on Pillar I payments, so that more money would be available for the smaller scale family farm. We proposed the front-loading of payments, with a higher, medium and lower payment amount per hectare for set ranges of hectares, to fairly deliver for all land holdings, while scaling back as the holding gets larger.
"The use of reference years, basing entitlements on farm activity from 20 years ago, needs to be abandoned as it closes off the possibilities for younger farmers. It was welcome to see that some of this seems to be included in the proposal from the EU Commission, however the devil is always in the detail.
"Of course the reduction of EU funding to CAP poses a problem. Having read the detail, the much heralded upper limit for Pillar I payments is not real. It is, instead, a modest scaling-back on payments between €60,000 and €100,000 and will bring little extra into the pot for those on lower payments.
"Even this scaling back has loopholes, as big farm enterprises can get allowance for labour costs; so if they have big entitlements they can claim farm salary costs to continue getting the big payments and breach the scaling-back rule."