IFA Executive Council Warns Minister Coveney That He Cannot Rollover on Cap Reform

Speaking after today’s emergency meeting of the IFA Executive Council, President John Bryan said there was strong condemnation of the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and his handling of the CAP negotiations to date, saying farmers are not buying the Minister’s spin.

John Bryan said there was deep dissatisfaction with the Minister’s approach, which was in danger of capsizing the sector because of the income losses it would impose on our most productive farmers. “The clear view from the meeting was that Minister Coveney is not being straight with farmers and is conceding too much ground to the Commission. What farmers want to see is a tougher approach that will deliver a deal for Irish farming that keeps our active farmers in business and our expansion plans on target.”

“The Minister knows that the outcome to CAP Reform will define his time in Agriculture. Based on what we have seen so far, Simon Coveney’s handling of the issue will be very negative for productive agriculture.”

John Bryan said the Minister is also guilty of not being straight with farmers about the true extent of the losses they face as a result of new proposals that emerged at last week’s Farm Council. “The Minister did a regional roadshow last year, where he promised to minimise the losses for active producers. He cannot abandon this promise in pursuit of an EU deal at any cost.”

In a clear warning to Minister Coveney, John Bryan said it was totally unacceptable that over 75,000 farmers will lose out, with most of them facing losses of between 30% and 40% of their existing SFP by 2019. This equates to cutting the incomes of our most productive farmers by an average of at least 20%. “From the outset, IFA has opposed Commissioner Ciolos’ proposals on flattening and regionalisation. Minister Coveney is being rolled over and is conceding way too much in a bid to secure an EU deal in these negotiations. Irish farmers expect him to toughen his stance and defend their interests now, in advance of any final discussions.”

John Bryan said the IFA has argued strongly that objective criteria such as stocking rates and labour units must be the basis of minimising losses for productive farmers. He said, “IFA is insisting that monies available for redistribution are targeted at active farmers using objective criteria, and not to landlords and inactive or hobby farmers. The Minister’s proposals are effectively capitalising SFP payments into land ownership rather than production, which will be a disaster for land mobility and growth.

Minister Coveney appears to have thrown in the towel on coupled payments and as things stand in Brussels today, objective criteria seem to be forgotten about. The Council’s proposals are moving too far, too quickly towards a flat payment system, and unless the Minister stands up and shouts stop, irreparable damage will be done to Irish agriculture.”

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