Speaking as part of a panel at the National Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe in Dublin today, Europe Day, IFA President Joe Healy said decisions at EU level in the next 12 months will be a litmus test that will determine farmer sentiment towards Europe.
He said, “As a staunch member of the EU for 45 years, we have stood with other Member States because we had faith in the EU to help improve our lives. However, the European Union now faces a huge challenge regarding the future funding of the Union.
“It is time for Member States to show they are committed to a strong EU by committing more to the EU budget and delivering a ‘solidarity dividend’ for EU citizens. Any other course of action would be a very negative signal about the future,” he said.
Joe Healy said the two most significant issues on the horizon for farmers are the CAP Budget and the direction of the Brexit talks, “Given our exposure on Brexit, and the importance of the CAP Budget for Irish farming and the Irish economy, these are make-or-break issues for us.”
The IFA President said solidarity will be used by political leaders in speeches to mark Europe Day. However, the rhetoric from political leaders has to translate into tangible support by means of a larger budget.
The IFA President said a modest percentage increase in the contributions from Member States would fill the hole left by Brexit and allow for an increase in the CAP budget. It is inconceivable that farmers would suffer a double hit because of the UK decision to leave the EU.
Mr Healy said the Irish Government has a leading role to play and farmers will expect our Taoiseach to forge alliances across the EU in seeking larger contributions to the Budget.
“Leo Varadkar and the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan have to mount a strong campaign convincing all Member States to increase the EU and CAP Budgets so that supports to farmers increase at least in line with inflation,” Joe Healy concluded.