We propose that farmers who divest from animal farming should be allowed to keep their current CAP payments in return for Ecosystems Services.
Our recommendations to Redirect Irish Agricultural Subsidies are as follows:
We recommend that farmers are paid for Ecosystems Services including biodiversity restoration, carbon sequestration, flood reduction, water purification, pollination, etc.
Farmers would be paid to convert 1.7 Mha of land to native broadleaf forests to reach the European average of 34% (2.5 Mha) forest cover.
Farmers would be paid to convert a further 1.1 Mha to native grasslands, meadows, bog and wetlands.
Ireland’s Farmers and Land owners will play a significant role in Ireland’s transition to renewable energy – primarily wind and solar with some small scale biomass for local combined heat and power schemes.
If farmers can continue to receive their current payments for Payment for Ecosystem Services then this can allow the transition away from animal farming to happen. On average this would actually increase the income of large beef and sheep farmers as follows (2018 figures):
· Cattle farmers from an average income of €8,318 to the CAP subsidy of €13,109.
· Cattle Other farmers from an average income of €14,408 to the CAP subsidy of €16,257.
· Sheep farmers from an average income of €13,769 to the CAP subsidy of €18,812.
We would recommend that no CAP payment should exceed €50,000 per farm. Only 1.4% of Irish farmers get payments over €50,000. Very large profitable farms should not be subsidised.
We recommend that payments not be tied to land area (as they are at present) but to ensuring that all rural landowners are getting a living wage for contributing to meeting the state’s legal and ethical obligations to current and to future generations.