Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture today (Thurs), IFA President John Bryan said securing a fully-funded budget from 2014 for the Single Farm Payment and Rural Development measures would be crucial for Irish agriculture to expand exports, create jobs and generate activity in the rural and wider economy.
John Bryan said a fully-funded CAP and EU Budget would send a clear message that European leaders were genuinely interested in promoting growth and jobs in a sector of huge importance.
The IFA President said, “With exports of €9bn and 300,000 jobs in the agri-food sector, it is in Ireland’s interests that the sectors grows and develops. The Government has been strong in looking for a full CAP budget for Ireland and to ensure that funding supports the productive base. It is critical that significant changes are made to the Ciolos proposals in order that CAP reform works for Ireland.”
He said, “IFA is determined that the CAP must support active farmers, and the role the agriculture sector is playing in contributing to our economic recovery and delivering on the Food Harvest 2020 targets.”
Mr Bryan said a uniform payment only makes sense in the context where there is uniformity in the other factors that impact on farm output and income, such as land and returns from the market. “A flexible payment system must be secured for Ireland that will minimise disruption at farm level, and maximise production at national level.”
On greening, John Bryan said a separate payment on greening would involve significant additional bureaucracy, administration and processing, leading to substantial payment delays. “Greening must be incorporated into normal farming practices and included as part of the cross compliance and GAEC measures for the Single Farm Payment. Farmers should be able to choose from a menu of practical ‘greening options’ on an annual basis.”
He said the Commission’s proposal to use 2014 as a reference year is creating major disruption of the land-leasing market in Ireland. To address this issue, further changes are required that should allow Member States to set their own reference year.