CAP reform 2023 to 2027

It is expected that the basic payment scheme will be replaced by the support for sustainability (BISS). The value of entitlements will be subject to further convergence. The average value of an entitlement is likely to be one €165.

A certain percentage of direct payments will be made to assist young farmers in establishing farming businesses under the complimentary income support for young farmer scheme.

As with previous schemes the agri-environmental measures will provide support for active farmers who undertake particular practices which enhance the environment promote biodiversity or water quality et cetera. This is likely to be up to 1/4 of the entire funding. It will not be linked to entitlements. The farmer must be active.

Agri-environment and climate measure (AECM) replaces GLAS. It will provide for a number of farm-based options with average payments of 5 to €7000  per annum ver the period of the programme. Results-based requirements apply

The cooperation project option is available in defined high priority areas. It is expected that farmers will be assisted by a local cooperation project team in implementing the options. Average payments are likely to be 7 to €10,000.

The straw incorporation measure seeks to encourage the tillage sector to increase organic soil carbon levels by incorporating straw from crops and oilseed rape stop a payment of €250 per hectare for cereal crops and €150 per hectare for oilseed rape is proposed.

Key Definitions

Agricultural Activity: There must be an agricultural activity on a parcel for it be considered eligible, and this activity can be either production or maintenance. This activity must be either producing food or crops or maintaining the land in a state suitable for production, e.g., topping, mulching etc. This is the same provision as applies in the current CAP.

Agricultural Area: sub-divides into ‘arable land’, ‘permanent crops’ and ‘permanent grassland’. One proposed change from the definition in the previous CAP is that Ireland proposes to specifically include “rushes” within the “permanent grassland” definition.

Eligible Hectare: It is proposed that an eligible hectare shall consist of any agricultural area which, during the year for which support is requested, is used for an agricultural activity or, where the area is also used for nonagricultural activities, is predominantly used for agricultural activities, and which is at the farmer’s disposal.

From 1 January 2023, it is proposed to allow up to 50% of a parcel consisting of features that may be beneficial to water protection, climate or biodiversity to be considered eligible. This would ensure that for areas of certain non-agricultural features, a farmer would not have to remove them in order to be allowed to draw down a BISS payment, Eco Scheme, or any Pillar II area-based payments.

Young Farmer: It is proposed that Ireland will define as Aged no more than 40 years of age at any time during the calendar year in which s/he, (i) first submits an application under Pillar I measures or (ii) submits an application under Pillar II measures, for young farmer support.

New Farmer: New Farmer will be defined as farmers that have set up as head of a holding for the first time in their lives and within the past 3 years.

Active Farmer: Under the CSP, Active farmers are defined as those ‘engaged in at least a minimum level of agricultural activity’. It is proposed that Ireland will no longer apply the negative list (i.e. airports, railways, waterworks, real estate services and sports and recreational grounds). For an applicant to be deemed active, they must demonstrate how they bear the economic and agricultural risk with regard to agricultural activity being undertaken.

It is proposed that the minimum level of agricultural activity will be based on the minimum stocking rate requirement in the previous year, similar to ANC, for grassland farms. Where an applicant does not meet the minimum stocking level in the previous year, they can opt to do so in the current year.

Where DAFM cannot verify the active status of a farmer from its databases, a farmer will have to select from a range of options on the BISS from 2023 – for example, producing crops, making hay/silage, topping, maintaining landscape features, etc

The statutory management requirements and the good agricultural and environmental condition requirements continue to apply under the 2023 to 2027 scheme.


Maintenance of permanent grassland.

General safeguard against conversion to other agricultural uses to preserve carbon stock. Implemented at National level to ensure that the ratio of permanent grassland to agricultural area does not decrease more than 5% when compared to the reference year of 2018.

Protection of wetland and peatland

Wetland and peatland areas will be mapped and this GAEC standard will be implemented in 2024. Requirements will include restrictions on certain practices -e.g., conversion of permanent  grassland on wetland and peatland to other agricultural land uses such as arable.

The burning of arable stubble and crop residues is prohibited. Prior authorisation by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is now required if burning is to take place due to a plant health reason.

Establishment of buffer strips along water courses

Various buffers apply in respect of spreading of organic manures, storage of farmyard manure in a field, ploughing/cultivation and application of certain products. The application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides within 3 meters of a watercourse will be prohibited.

Buffer zone for late harvested/grazeable crops:

For late harvested crops and late harvested spring cereal crops, a minimum buffer of 6m shall be put in place to protect any intersecting watercourses. An increased buffer strip of 4m applies beside watercourses if catch crops are being grazed insitu (as per GAEC 6 details).


Tillage management or other appropriate cultivation techniques to limit the risk of soil degradation and erosion, taking into account the slope gradient

Requirements include (inter-alia):

  • Restrictions on the ploughing of grassland at certain times of the year, including grassland exceeding a specified slope gradient,
  • Restrictions on the ploughing of arable land at certain times of the year, exceeding a specified slope gradient,
  • Establishment of green cover and post-harvest cultivation requirements in certain circumstances,
  • Avoiding bare soils for prolonged periods,
  • Use of suitable machinery to avoid soil damage.  Minimum soil cover to avoid bare soil in period(s) and areas that are most sensitive.

Requirements include (inter-alia):

  • Establishment of green cover
  • Establishment of lie-back areas and buffers in the case of in-situ grazing of forage crops
  • Ploughing for the establishment of non-grass crops will be restricted within 3m of a watercourse,
  • Avoid poaching,
  • Avoid over-grazing.

Crop rotation in arable land

Crop rotation and crop diversification to be implemented on arable holdings. Crop Rotation to take place at parcel and holding level based on a 4- year rotation cycle resulting in at least two different primary crops.

Diversification requirements include:

Holdings, with an arable area equal to or greater than 10ha but less than 30ha, must establish/ maintain at least two arable crops. The main arable crop must occupy not more that 75% of the arable area on the holding.

Holdings, with an arable area equal to or greater than 30ha, must establish/ maintain at least three arable crops. The main arable crop must occupy not more that 75% of the arable area on the holding. The combined area of the two main arable crops must not occupy more than 95% of the arable land area on the holding.

The use of secondary crops (catch crops) can be used to meet rotation/ diversification requirements in certain cases. Holdings with between 10 and 50 ha of arable land may be exempted from crop rotation only, where > 50% of the arable area is sown with barley.

Rotation & GAEC

This GAEC is only applicable to arable land, however, certain exemptions/exceptions will apply, for example if a farmer has less than 10 hectares of arable land, organic farmers, certain crops types and combination of crops.

  • Minimum share (4%) of agricultural area devoted to “space for nature”
  • Retention of landscape features.
  • Ban on cutting hedges and trees during the bird breeding and rearing season.
  • measures for avoiding invasive plant species.

This GAEC will apply to all agricultural area, with certain limited exceptions.

  • Farmers will be required to provide ‘space for nature’ features on at least 4% of holding area. Features will include (inter alia) land lying fallow, hedgerows, drains/ditches, buffer strips, stone walls, ponds, habitats, monuments, scrub, rock, etc. Certain landscape features are designated, e.g., hedgerows, ponds, archaeological monuments, and restrictions will apply on their removal. Hedgerow removal is only permitted in exceptional cases and under certain conditions.
  • Cutting hedges and trees during the bird breeding and rearing season is prohibited.
  • Controlling the growth and spread of invasive species and noxious weeds on agricultural lands.

Ban on converting or ploughing permanent grassland designated as environmentally sensitive permanent grasslands (ESPG) in Natura 2000 sites.

Ban on ploughing or conversion in ESPG areas

As under previous schemes application for the ISS is made electronically annually  through  an online system. The applicant must be a direct farmer and hold 1B ISS payment entitlement for each eligible hectare claimed. The payments are based on payment entitlements for an eligible hectare held by the applicant. Payments will be capped above 60,000 and the maximum will be €66,000

The value of payment entitlements will be subject convergence meeting a minimum value of 85% of the average by 2026. Applicants will be informed of their individual position over the period. The support is based on the size of the form holding (number of eligible hectares and the number and value of entitlement held)

The National Reserve will also be provided within BISS to allocate entitlements to new entrants to farming and young farmers.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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