The amount the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) delivered to farmers in Offaly in 2011 was almost €37 million
Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael MEP has described the funds as an important injection, not just to farmers in the county but also to the rural economy, towns and villages, for Offaly and Ireland East and a member of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee.
The MEP commented, “behind this figure lays a wealth of individual farm enterprises that deliver for families, for the community and for the local economy. “ She said the Commission reform proposals for the CAP involve a new farm payment regime and further environmental requirements and she said there is much uncertainty about the overall EU budget.
“Difficult political negotiations on the EU budget post 2014 are only starting. A positive outcome for agriculture would be that we retain the current agricultural budget and that Ireland holds onto our share of that budget,” she said.
However, the MEP warned that that is by no means certain.
“Of course a political priority is to ensure that farmers in Carlow continue to receive the current level of support,” she said.
McGuinness who is leading negotiations on the Direct Payments section of the reform for the largest political group in Parliament, the EPP, to which Fine Gael is affiliated, encouraged farmers to keep involved in the debate at every level.
She added that while the CAP reform proposals do acknowledge the need for measures to assist young farmers as currently constructed the proposals are weak and will not be sufficient to encourage and help young people to make a career in agriculture. Better measures are needed to ensure generation renewal and innovation.
The MEP said the European Parliament has indicated its unwillingness to commit to a final agreement until such time as there is political agreement on the actual figures available to fund the CAP.
”This could push final agreement well into the term of the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013,” she said. “What is on the table now will change as the talks progress.”