Speaking at the Millstreet Dairy Show, IFA North Cork Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must come forward urgently with a strategy to feed into the 2012 EU Commission review of the “Soft Landing” provisions.
He must also develop a negotiating strategy on the CAP proposals which will avoid interference with dairy farmers’ expansion plans to ensure the dairy sector can deliver on the Food Harvest 2020 50% expansion target over the period of the reform.
Sean O’Leary said, “We know there is huge potential for the Irish dairy sector to expand post-2015, but dairy farmers are now struggling to prepare for this because of the rising cost and the scarcity of quota. Ireland, unlike the majority of EU member states, is being denied the benefits of a “soft landing” in advance of quota abolition. Minister Coveney must convince the EU Commission to recognise this, and to implement measures allowing for greater production flexibility in the review scheduled by the Health Check for the end of 2012.”
“The new CAP reform proposals have the potential to further restrict dairy farmers and interfere with the massive economic potential of the sector, to the detriment of the Irish economy,” he added.
“In 2010, the Single Farm Payment amounted to over 33% of the average Irish dairy farmers’ income. The proposed compulsory greening measures, reductions in payments, future reference year and the lack of ring-fenced budgets for dairy market supports could all do serious damage to our milk production base, and therefore our ability to deliver on our expansion targets,” he said.
“Minister Coveney must fight hard for Irish dairy farmers and for Irish agriculture in general. He must make sure that the CAP Reform does not damage Ireland’s production potential. Failing to secure expansion-friendly measures would impact more than the agriculture sector: it could affect the very recovery of the Irish economy,” he concluded.