IFA President Tim Cullinan said the consultation process by the Department of Agriculture on the next CAP is a farce and provides no opportunity for genuine consultation.
“The first of the so-called ‘Town Hall’ meetings tonight didn’t allow farmers ‘to have their voices heard’ as the Minister promised. Only written questions were allowed and these were hidden in a private chat function so that only the questioner and could see the question and the answer,” he said.
“Somebody decided to shut down any opportunity to debate issues about a CAP reform which will have significant ramifications for the incomes of farmers. It denies farmers on the ground any input to the debate on funding, which is the elephant in the room on these proposals,” he said.
The consultation document itself was sent to members of the CAP consultative group as a fait accompli less than an hour before their last meeting, which was called at short notice for the Friday of the August Bank Holiday weekend,” he said.
“While a presentation on proposed schemes was made to the group in May, the Department amended them since that meeting, including a proposed penalty for expanding suckler numbers,” he said
“The Minister and the Department cannot ram through these proposals based on a sham consultation process,” he said.
“Whatever definition of ‘Town Hall’ that you use, the Department didn’t meet it. It’s very frustrating and farmers would have to question the value of participating in meetings organised for tomorrow and Thursday,” he said.
“There are many other detailed aspects of proposals which are unacceptable and IFA will be making a comprehensive submission in consultation with our committees,” he said.
However, the closing date of August 27th is far too tight.
“The Department needs to extend the deadline by at least two weeks to give more time for proper consideration. We want to have extensive dialogue with our membership, something which didn’t happen tonight,” he said.