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IFA President Joe Healy has said that the aspirations of the European Commission’s Green Deal must recognise that agriculture is a commercial activity which delivers jobs, food, fuel, energy and environmental services for all European citizens.

In addition, a shrinking Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget can no longer be used to address the growing number of asks placed on farmers.  The measures proposed in this Green Deal Europe’s climate neutrality agenda will see new requirements, which will require an increased budget.

He added, “Farmers continue to provide premium produce to Irish and European consumers, produced to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. This demonstrates the real success of CAP. However, with average family farm incomes in Ireland at just over €23,000 the reality is it’s hard for farmers to go greener when many of the them are already in the red”.

Joe Healy has called on the EU to defend, on the basis of science, the sustainability of its agricultural model and food production systems in the face of fast rising misinformation and bashing by those with anti-farming agendas.

Farmers are uniquely positioned as food, fuel and energy producers as well as custodians of the environment are already focused on many of the Green Deal objectives. However, the European Commission must ensure that the following actions are delivered:

  • The Common Agricultural Policy budget must be increased to take account of inflation and to fully compensate farmers for any additional requirements placed upon them as a result of CAP reform or measures proposed in the Green Deal.
  • The double standards in EU trade talks are ended. The European Commission are proposing to import thousands of tonnes of beef from deforested Amazonian regions of Brazil and other areas.
  • Farmers must receive the full credit for carbon that is sequestered and stored in their grassland, hedgerows and forestry.

IFA has also said that any proposals regarding the use of inputs on farms, must be based on scientific evidence. We cannot have a situation where European agriculture is rendered uncompetitive while other part of the world continue to have access to best available technologies. The use of such technologies denied to European farmers are disregarded when it comes to trade talks with regions such as Mercosur and these double standards must stop.

Concluding Joe Healy has called for a full regulatory cost assessment to be completed on the proposed European Green Deal. “Everyone aggress that sustainability is important, but sustainability is also about economic and societal sustainability, as well as the environment. Therefore, the European Commission must ensure that a full analysis is completed so we understand all impacts of the proposed Green Deal for European citizens, including farmers.”

Speaking as the new EU Commission took up office, IFA President Joe Healy said this Commission will preside over some of the most important decisions in the history of the EU.

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IFA President Joe Healy said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has to use today’s meeting of the 28 EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels to secure a guarantee that there will be no cuts in CAP payments next year as part of the transition arrangements.

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IFA President Joe Healy said that the CAP transition measures proposed in an EU Commission document are likely to result in 4% cut in every farmers’ direct payment in October 2020, with further more severe cuts in farm schemes under pillar 2.

“Farmers cannot afford to take these cuts; the Taoiseach and the Minister must put their foot down now and say they will not accept it,” he said.

“Because the EU will not be able to get new CAP rules in place in time for 2020, they plan to keep the old CAP but apply the new EU budget proposed by the Commission last year. This will see a cut of €47m or 4% on pillar 1 Direct Payments and €48m or 15% in pillar 2 which covers farm schemes such as GLAS and ANC,” said Joe Healy.

This results in a total cut amounting to €97m/year to Irish farmers without taking account of inflation. “This proposed new budget has not been approved by member states or the European Parliament. IFA is clear if the rules are staying the same the budget must stay the same,” he said.

“The Commission mantra of ‘old rules, new money’ will not wash. If it’s the same rules then it should be the same money. Indeed, with the UK expected to leave the EU next year, the Commission is looking at a saving in the CAP Budget of up to €4bn pa, they cannot justify these cuts in light of this,” he said.

“There are currently 37,000 farmers in GLAS who are finishing next year. They need an extension to continue with their commitments. The full protection of all rural development schemes including ANCs and TAMS must be ensured. The CAP should roll over with no cuts to any scheme or any farmer payments.”

“The Taoiseach has been telling farmers he ‘has their back’. It is now time for him to show he means this by rejecting this money saving manoeuvre by the Commission,” said the IFA President.

IFA President Joe Healy said the Department of Agriculture CAP analysis published today does not show the full impact of the CAP proposals as it omits the impact of the €97m per annum cut which is part of the current EU Commission proposal. This amounts to €678m for the seven years of the CAP programme, before the impact of inflation.

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