Addressing the 57th Annual General Meeting of the Irish Farmers Association in the RDS in Dublin, IFA President John Bryan said a successful outcome to the negotiations for the CAP post-2013 was vital to achieve the planned growth in the Irish agriculture and food sector, which is crucial to our economic recovery.
Mr Bryan commented, “The improvement in farm incomes in 2011 will underpin economic activity in rural Ireland, and provide the confidence for farmers to invest in growing their businesses. However, even in a positive year, over 70% of farm income was made up of EU and national supports, and any reduction would have a very negative impact on incomes and investment decisions at farm level.”
He continued, “Since Ireland’s accession to the EEC in 1973, the CAP has played a pivotal role in supporting the farm family structure and maintaining active, vibrant communities, which are the cornerstone of our rural economy. With close on €2bn of EU funding coming into Ireland annually, the Government must prioritise the maintenance of the full envelope under all pillars in this reform.”
In welcoming the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos to Ireland specially for IFA’s AGM, John Bryan said 400 IFA officers from around the country would make him aware of the difficulties around some of his proposals when he addressed them later today. He said, “Commissioner Ciolos will be in no doubt that there are aspects of his proposals that will not work for Ireland, and must be changed.”
Mr Bryan remarked, “The flat-rate system is too simplistic and takes no account of major differences in the productive capacity of land or levels of investment and commitment by producers. We must have flexibility to implement a payment model linked to the current structure that maintains support for productive farmers, and allows a gradual adjustment over alonger timeframe.”
He said the Commission’s proposals for a compulsory and separate ‘greening’ payment would impose additional costs and bureaucracy, and interfere with farmers’ production decisions.
“Irish farmers already meet high standards in this area and greening must be incorporated into the existing cross-compliance measures.”
The IFA President said the CAP Rural Development Programme provides essential support for farmers to deliver environmental benefits, maintain farming in peripheral areas and improve farm structures and efficiency.
“The Government must set out to maximise Rural Development funding for this country in the next round.”
John Bryan acknowledged the commitment from the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that the Single Farm Payment must be targeted at active, productive farmers. “IFA is determined to lead a strong and united campaign to safeguard the Single Farm Payment, and secure a positive outcome for Irish farmers and the agriculture sector.”
Concluding, he said the full resources of IFA will be deployed at home and in Europe to challenge the Government, our MEPs and the European Commission to deliver an outcome that works for Irish farmers.