Sean Fitzpatrick NIAPA County Down Chairman welcomed over 150 farmers to a recent NIAPA meeting focussing on CAP reform, common land and other issues in the Kilmorey Arms, Kilkeel.
They heard Norman Fulton from DARD give a breakdown on the CAP proposals, the various options for consideration and the DARD preference if any for some options.
The purpose of the meeting was to inform farmers of details of the Pillar 1 Direct Payments section especially as farmers are now in a consultation period where anyone can put their response or opinion to DARD prior to January 17th. Anyone who wishes can download the consultation document from the DARD website.
In the discussions NIAPA has had with farmers it is obvious that everyone is anxious to know the impact CAP reform will have on their business and income and the simple fact is that no one can answer that on an individual basis at present.
From the presentation and questions which followed there were a few key areas which were prominent.
1. There is only one pot of money to be distributed using whatever options are chosen
2. There are three compulsory elements
* Basic Payment Scheme
* Greening Payment
* Young Farmers Payment
3. There are also other options which are not compulsory such as ANC (formerly LFA payments); coupled support (headage payments); small farmers’ scheme and redistribution of payments.
Money used for any option at (3) will most likely come from the basic payment scheme.
The proposal is to move to a flat rate scheme beginning in 2015 which means that whatever the value of your present entitlements be it 78.33 Euro or 1000 Euro you will eventually move to somewhere around 300 Euro or whatever the flat rate will be when the money available is divided by eligible land claimed in 2015. It is proposed to be half way there by 2019.
There were questions on the young farmers payment and eligibility and the proposal to have a third level qualification. The young person has to be a first time head of holding under 40 in order to obtain an extra 25% for five years.
Active farmers and the definition of these was something which exercised the mind of many, and although not finally settled DARD is working on a definition which will possibly deal with this.
Therefore landlords and tenants will have to hold serious discussion in 2014 to determine who will be entitled to claim single farm payment in 2015.
It must be emphasised for those who presume there will be a payment on livestock that there are variations on this proposal in that whether it should be paid on cows only or cows and sheep and the possible impact of this on production.
In Scotland where there has been a coupled payment, cow numbers have dropped.
There are other issues such as greening which are compulsory and may not impact much on grassland farms but have to be dealt with on an individual basis.
Sean Fitzpatrick welcomed Andrew Elliott of DARD who gave an update on Single Farm Payment schedules stating that the process had started with first payments due on farms on or after the 6th December with 85% payment in the month of December.
Mr Elliot pointed out that it was timely to remind everyone about the eligibility of land on which entitlements are based and claimed, particularly in the lead up to 2015 and the issuing of new entitlements.
He explained the process and rationale of the mapping system and continued process of upgrading and improving the system.
There were questions on mapping, inspections, penalties and late payments and Andrew advocated more use of online SFP applications as a way of reducing both error and administration.
He went on to discuss the revised mapping of common land and advised that new maps would soon be issued and that appointments could be made in DARD Direct offices to discuss problems with staff and ensure maps were correct. He pointed out that it would be necessary for those entitled to use common land to come together to ensure there were no problems. It is important that everyone is aware of the impact on their business of ineligible land in common grazing.
Sean Fitzpatrick closed the by thanking everyone for attending both speakers and audience and said that when more information was known possibly in Spring, NIAPA would organise another information evening on CAP