23 Oct 2015
CAP REFORM MUST RECOGNISE THE GREATER ROLE OF AGRICULTUREIFA in Brussels
IFA this week met with a delegation from the Finnish Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), visiting Ireland ahead of the North America-EU Agriculture Conference in Belfast. Discussion centred around the future direction of CAP, current and future trade negotiations, immediate sectoral challenges and climate change.
Both IFA and MTK agreed on the need to prioritise an effective future reform of CAP with continued simplification needed in any mid-term review. IFA President Eddie Downey said, “The agriculture sector cannot be burdened with the cost of providing public goods without additional financing and this message must be communicated”.
Both IFA President Downey and MTK President Juha Marttila highlighted how past CAP reforms have delivered large benefits to consumers through lower food prices while leaving farm families with returns below the cost of production. The imbalance that has seen the current income crisis affect their respective organisation members needs to be redressed.
MTK President Juha Marttila has previously highlighted the ineffectiveness of the current Greening measure – with 20m hectares of agricultural land in Finland under forestry, ten times the level of available arable land. Coupled payments are favoured in Finland to protect and develop the livestock and dairy sectors.
Market volatility has affected both countries with depressed dairy prices putting huge pressure on farm profitability and viability and farm efficiency becoming even more critical. The Russian embargo has hit Finnish dairy producers particularly hard and according to MTK a lifting of the embargo on agricultural food imports does not appear imminent in the short term.
Regarding future trade deals, Marttila emphasised that “good deals should be targeted, particularly for agriculture” with Finland’s small open economy open to the export opportunities that may develop. IFA President Eddie Downey warned of the need to protect sensitive sectors such as beef in any TTIP negotiation while welcoming the benefits of access to new markets.
With one third of farm income on average generated through forestry, Finland is wary of the effects of upcoming COP21 climate change talks in Paris. This was echoed by IFA’s Eddie Downey who spoke of the need for sustainable intensification in agriculture and against carbon or greenhouse gas targets that might limit livestock expansion. Climate change talks begin in Paris on Monday 30th November.