The President of ICMSA, John Comer, said the focus must now be on the allocation of the diminished budget in a way that was both fair and most productive.
“In relation to Pillar I, the key issues for farmers is the cut in the budget for SFP and secondly, the availability of a budget for price supports in the event of a market downturn. Since 2005, farmers have seen their SFP cut through Modulation by 13% and a further reduction of over 3% represents a blow,” he said.
“In this regard, the Minister needs to clarify how he intends to address the cut in the overall SFP budget and answer the question: will all farmers face the same reduction or will it be targeted? The method of convergence, Greening and a definition of active farming are other key issues and ICMSA has particular concerns in relation to the funding of price supports during periods of market downturns.
“The EU has consistently left farmers at the mercy of multinationals and the multiple retailers and this matter needs to be addressed. In this regard, we call again on the Minister to support the introduction of a EU Market Monitoring Agency to once and for all address the issue of margins along the food supply chain”, said Mr Comer.
In regard to Pillar II, Mr Comer said that the cut represents a reduction of €39m per annum in EU funding.
“The Minister should spell out his priorities under Pillar II as well as ensuring that adequate national funding is available for the essential Agri-environment, Disadvantaged Areas and On-Farm Investment grants in the new programme,” he said.
“Pillar II schemes have played a critical role throughout the country in terms of modernisation, restructuring and the retention of farming in poorer areas. These schemes have taken a hammering in successive national budgets since 2009 and this simply cannot continue, the Minister must deliver a well-resourced and secure budget for the 2014-2020 period.”