IFA President John Bryan led a delegation of key commodity Chairpersons in a meeting last week with the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney. The meeting touched on a wide range of issues, including CAP reform, trade deals and Budget cuts.
Mr Bryan said the Minister was left in no doubt as to the anger among drystock and low-income farmers over cuts to the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. He said this was unfinished business and the most damaging effects of the Budget would have to be re-visited by the Minister.
The Budget cuts were also raised by the IFA Livestock Chairperson Henry Burns, the IFA Sheep Chairperson James Murphy and the IFA Rural Development Chairperson Flor McCarthy. On the changes to Farm Assist, Flor McCarthy said the Minister must engage with the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton on the issue, as the changes to the income assessment will lead to significant reductions for the most vulnerable section of farming.
The IFA President said the strong stance by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture to secure a full Budget for both Pillar 1 and Pillar 11 in the CAP 2014-2020 must be maintained.
“Neither Ireland nor farm families can afford any cuts in the next EU Budget to be agreed in February, which will be worth €11bn to the Irish economy over the next seven years. The Minister committed to raising the importance of a full Budget for Ireland with the President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy during his visit here this week,” he said adding the Government must keep 50:50 co-financing in place for the next Rural Development Programme to give a total Programme worth €700m each year,” he added.
On the pending trade deal with Canada, Mr Bryan said the Government must resist any attempt to undermine the livestock sector in Europe.
IFA National Dairy Chairman Kevin Kiersey raised the issue of market supports for dairy prices in the new CAP, saying funding must be secure.