IFA President John Bryan led an IFA delegation on livestock, dairy, sheep, poultry and direct payments in a recent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney in Dublin.
On direct payments, IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey called on the Minister for a review of the current Charter and said payments must be made on time in 2011. He said the delays of 2010 cannot be tolerated again. In response, Minister Coveney agreed to put a review of the Charter in place and said he will insist that payments are made on time.
The Minister also said Ireland will also seek an advance Single Farm Payment from October 16th in 2011. IFA also raised the problem of delays to REPS and AEOS, demanding that payments are made without further delay.
John Bryan said Minister Coveney was very strong on protecting the Single Farm Payment in CAP 2013 and the fight against Mercosur. Minister Coveney said “Ireland is leading the way at EU level in the battle against Mercosur”.
On livestock, IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Michael Doran told the Minister the €880m in Single Payment to the livestock sector must be fully protected in CAP 2013. In addition, he highlighted the importance of the Suckler Cow herd and protecting the important live export trade, as well as the Suckler Cow Welfare and Disadvantaged Area Scheme for farmers.
At the meeting, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Kevin Kiersey stressed the importance of intense lobbying in Brussels to obtain greater flexibility on milk quotas in advance of their 2015 abolition, to reduce the damaging impact of superlevy fines and quota costs on Irish farmers’ competitiveness.
The Minister said he was committed to continue lobbying with like-minded member states for a “softer” landing on milk quota, although he was very aware of strong opposition from the Commission and many influential member states. He further committed to driving personally the delivery of the Food Harvest 2020 agenda.
In response to IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy, Minster Coveney said he was very supportive of the IFA proposal for a sheep group on Food Harvest 2020. He said this was a good idea in the context of driving the targets set down in Food Harvest 2020 for the sector.
On the €8m Capital Grant Aid on sheep fencing and handling equipment, Minister Coveney said he was conscious of the delays and added that sheep farmers would not have to wait much longer for clearance on their applications.
In response to IFA National Poultry Chairman Alo Mohan, Minister Coveney said he understood the pressure on the sector resulting from massive increases in input costs. He said progress is being made on labelling and he was strongly of the view that consumers have the right to know the origin of the meat they purchase. He expressed concern when the quality difference between Irish and imported chicken were outlined to him by Mr. Mohan.