Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said that "substantial progress" has been made on the strategy to reform the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

Mr Coveney was speaking in Brussels, where EU Agriculture Ministers are examining the future distribution of direct payments to farmers.

The approach tabled by the Irish presidency was favoured over that tabled by the European Commission.

The European Commission's proposal was to increase payments to 74,000 farmers in Ireland by an average of 85% and decrease payments to 56,000 more productive farmers by 33%.

The Irish presidency's position was a proposal that 65,000 farmers would gain an average of 29% in their payments while 56,000 would lose 9%.

The minister claimed that there was not going to be a "dramatic redistribution in a short space of time" which was originally proposed by Brussels.

He said this would now be done in a "managed way" in which "farmers that have above-average payments will lose some of that payment and that will go to those below the average."

Mr Coveney said he wanted to maintain supports for "competitive, productive, sustainable" farms and ensure that the planned re-distribution "didn't put farmers out of business."

The minister said the final decision on how CAP payments are made to famers should be taken by European ministers next month.

The European Commission is demanding a move towards uniform payments to farmers per country or per region by 2019.

The EU Agriculture Ministers are also due to discuss the horse meat scandal at the meeting.