With the next number of months being of huge importance to the future of the CAP budget, Castlebar farmer and President of ICMSA, John Comer, has welcomed the French-German accord insisting on no further cuts in the CAP budget and endorsing the position adopted by the EU Commission.
Mr Comer said that in the face of growing pressures from some member states to cut the overall EU budget – and specifically the CAP budget – the announcement by two big players that there must be no further reductions is both timely and hugely encouraging to the Irish position given the importance of agriculture and the agri-food sector to our economy.
Mr Comer said that ICMSA had met with senior officials of the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine this week and raised key concerns facing the membership at this time.
“The national allocation is absolutely critical and it is essential that there is a co-ordinated effort by all Ministers between now and the end of the year to secure, at the very minimum, the existing CAP budget allocated to Ireland. Following the budget, the key issues that need to be addressed are the flattening of the payment, greening, the base year, the definition of an active farmer, measures to address price volatility and the availability of an agri-environment scheme and on-farm investment schemes under Pillar 2”, said Mr Comer.
Following the meeting with the Department, Mr. Comer noted that major concerns exist for farmers and unless issues specific to Ireland are addressed, the payments to active farmers could be severely slashed. He said that the package of proposals being put forward by the Department would certainly address many of ICMSA concerns, but all the elements will have to be delivered to ensure losses to active farmers are minimised. In this regard, ICMSA would have particular concerns in relation to the base year and the targeting of payments to active farmers.
“A future base year will not support active farmers and that’s why Ireland must continue to push from a retrospective base year or, alternatively, some mechanism to ensure that active farmers will not lose payments as a result of a future base year. In relation to the targeting of payments to active farmers, it appears that the EU Commission definition is designed not to exclude anybody from qualification for payment and so will again diminish the pot for those people who are endeavouring to make a living from farming. Payments must be targeted at active farmers and the Minister must secure changes to allow this to happen”, said Mr Comer.