Minister quizzed why he has stalled on CAP payment convergence

A local TD has said the Minister for Agriculture must explain his decision not to proceed with the convergence of CAP farm payments during the transitionary period.

Deputy Matt Carthy was speaking further to a parliamentary question in which Minister Charlie McConalogue confirmed his intention to ‘rest’ convergence once more this year.

"It is widely recognised that there is an inherent unfairness in the distribution of CAP farm payments as a small minority of farm enterprises draw down exorbitant payments while most family farmers struggle with relatively meagre supports," said the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture. "This is due to an archaic ‘entitlement’ regime that bases farm payments on historic reference years.

“This unfairness needs to be addressed. Sinn Féin advocates for a front-loaded payment per hectare with a maximum Pillar 1 payment limit of €60,000 per annum.

“Successive Irish government’s have compounded the inequalities in the distribution of CAP payments and it appears that Minister McConalogue intends to continue in that vein.

“He has confirmed to me that he does not intend to continue the convergence of payments during the transition period. He needs to explain why he has decided to do this and what, if anything, he plans to do to ensure a fairer distribution of payments."

Deputy Carthy contended that minister McConalogue has performed a u-turn on the issue since his part came to power.

“While in opposition the Minister was firmly committed to convergence, this time last year chastising the then Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed TD for not continuing the practice through the transition period.

“His position is particularly bewildering considering farmers in his home county of Donegal will benefit to the tune of €12million in the event of a full flattening.

“The only ‘stability’ or ‘certainty’ this will provide to many farmers is that they will continue to be treated in an unfair manner for at least one year more.

“The approach that the Minister will pursue is becoming evident. It seems that he will delay and frustrate any and every opportunity to re-distribute farm payments just as his predecessors have done. By doing so, he will be doing a huge disservice to the majority of farming families and the rural economies that depend on them.

“The evidence points to an EU move towards enforcing convergence measures. Rather than wait to be forced, the Minister should be proactively working to correct the historical imbalances in Irish farm supports.”

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