“A step in the wrong direction” was the verdict of Ireland North & West MEP Marian Harkin commenting on statements by Simon Coveney indicating tentative support for CAP greening payments as a proportion of direct payments to individual farmers.
Harkin, who raised the question during the Irish Agriculture Minister’s presentation to the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, argued that this statement “sends the wrong signals about fairness and proportionality for the future CAP.
“The Minister indicated that ‘it might be simpler’ to bring in a new system under which a farmer’s greening payment is payable as a percentage relative to their basic payment - this could be as high as 30%,” Harkin noted.
However, the Independent MEP made a strong case that “bringing in a system whereby a farmer’s greening payment is proportionate to his overall single farm payment is a step in the wrong direction, and should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.
“The reality,” she added, “is that under such a proposal, some farmers could be paid 5 or 6 times more than other farmers for the same work - this would be an astonishing unfairness given that the reformed CAP is supposed to bring in more equitable distribution of supports both within Ireland and across Europe.
“Though this measure might arguably be simpler, as the Minister suggests, this does not justify its inclusion in a final CAP reform deal. In this case, simpler does not mean better,” the Ireland North & West MEP concluded.