IFA says thousands will lose out
Farming groups give mixed reaction to CAP reform
27/02/2013 News IFA dairy protestFarmers and IFA members Larry Hannon (left) from Kildare and Donal Murphy from Wexford among IFA Liquid Milk Farmers protested in Dublin's Grafton Street yesterday giving out free milk to passerbys as they drew attention to the fact that they are going broke because of the proces they are being paid for supplying milk. They are seeking an extra 8% / L of the average retail price to be paid back to them. They currently get 33 cent a litre on average. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien / THE IRISH TIMES Keywords : milk dairy farmer agriculture cow protest
Irish farming groups gave a cautious welcome to an agreement on the single farm payment reached last night in Brussels, as part of a radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap).
The key issue for Irish farmers was the Single Farm Payment. With the European Commission proposing a flat-rate payment per acre, Irish farmers were concerned about how payments would be distributed.
Last night’s proposal grants flexibility to member states making the transition to a flat-rate system, which is already used by some countries.
IFA president John Bryan said while the decisions reached by the EU Farm Council in Brussels provided important flexibilities for Ireland, tens of thousands of farmers would still lose significant amounts from their Single Farm Payment.
Mr Bryan said his organisation had consistently rejected the flattening of payments, and opposed minimum payments claiming they would damage production. “The Single Farm Payment must reward farmers for their hard work and investment in producing food.”
“The IFA’s position remains that there should be minimum re-distribution over the longest timeframe, with objective criteria to target payments to farmers who have increased their production.”
Mr Bryan said the Minister for Agriculture must remain firmly focused on securing the best deal for Irish agriculture and Irish farmers.
The next phase of negotiations involving the European Parliament and the EU Commission he said would be critical to maintaining the flexibilities secured and to ensuring Ireland can apply the right payment model for our farmers in the final deal.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) said while there were “useful flexibilities” in the agreement, other aspects were “retrograde”.
ICMSA president John Comer said there appeared to be useful flexibilities in relation to the convergence of payments, greening, disadvantaged areas and Pillar 2. He was adamant however that the coupling proposal, at 7 per cent, was a backward step and said the ICMSA was “disappointed” that Ireland did not have discretion on introducing an overall upper limit on payments.
“The reality that must be remembered is that farm families throughout the country are still facing substantial cuts to their payments,” Mr Comer said.
He said it was important to note that last night’s EU Farm Council discussions did not bring a conclusion and the next round of discussions between the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission would lead to more uncertainty for farmers with agreement not expected until June.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD called on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney to clarify what the new system will mean for Irish farmers.
“While there is now an acceptance of the need to move towards a fairer system of distributing farm payments, it is still unclear what this will mean if the agreement is implemented, Mr Ferris said.
“If the Irish convergence proposal has been accepted, those on smaller payments will gain, but not to the extent had there been agreement on front-loading a per hectare payment.”
Mr Ferris said he hoped moves toward redistribution of payments would begin immediately.
“I would also hope that the Minister honours his commitment to implementing a cap on higher payments, beginning with a limit of €100,000. I would like to see that lowered to €50,000 by 2019.”