Donegal deputy is focusing on small farmers in a bid to increase payments

Flattening basic payment scheme and increasing payments under environmental schemes could benefit small farmers

Donegal deputy is focusing on small farmers in a bid to increase payments

Flattening the Basic Payment Scheme along with increased payments under Agri Environment schemes will support 7,000 smaller farmers in Donegal by bringing in an additional €17m annually in extra payments, according to an independent general election candidate. 

Deputy Thomas Pringle is working with MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flannagan MEP in efforts to get the government to flatten the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) during the CAP negotiations.

Deputy Thomas Pringle said: "The vast majority of farmers in Donegal are small farmers mostly on marginal land and hill farms. They are farming in a more natural and environmentally friendly way than the big farmers who have been benefiting most from CAP payments. Under the BPS the Irish government has, to date, been awarding payments to the benefit of larger farmers down the country, with some getting up to €450 per hectare while some smaller farmers in Donegal have been getting less than €150 in many cases. This is unacceptable."

In December, Luke 'Ming' Flannagan MEP secured an amendment in the European Parliament which means that the Irish government will now flatten BPS payments to around €260 per hectare for all farmers.

"My role in the Dáil will be to ensure that the government complies with this. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments have been dividing farm payments in a way that benefits larger farmers rather than all farmers. This has to stop as smaller farmers are managing the land in a far more sustainable way that supports biodiversity and lower carbon emissions," he said. 

He said he has been supporting the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) who have been campaigning for this reform.

"I also support their call to have restrictions on the Green and Low carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS) lifted to increase participation to the environmentally friendly schemes. Small farmers on marginal land have a vital role to play in capturing carbon emissions and decreasing biodiversity loss. This can be done by supporting them to maintain bog land, planting native species of hardwood trees rather than massive sitka spruce plantations, and by maintaining habitats that support a wide range of biodiversity,” the south Donegal-based public representative said.

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