At the Connacht regional IFA meeting in Claremorris last night (Tues), 500 IFA officers and members strongly endorsed IFA’s position to secure a fair and balanced outcome to CAP Reform.
John Bryan said IFA wants the Single Farm Payment to support active, productive farmers in every part of the country, and a strong Rural Development Programme to underpin the viability of farmers in vulnerable sectors and regions. He said there was strong criticism of Minister Simon Coveney and the Government for their delay in committing to 50:50 co-financing to match the EU Budget funding of €313m per year for Pillar 2 from 2014-2020.
The meeting agreed that this money must be committed now, and Disadvantaged Areas, agri-environment, upland schemes and on-farm investment for vulnerable sectors must be prioritised. The meeting was unanimous in support for IFA’s position against adopting the Ciolos solution to his CAP Reform proposals of regionalisation and a co-efficient for the hills. “Monies must be targeted at active farmers and IFA’s policy of the option of 10% coupling was also endorsed.”
Following the meeting, the IFA President said Minister Coveney cannot sell out productive agriculture and undermine the viability of tens of thousands of farm families in these negotiations. “Farmers will hold him accountable, and expect the Minister to deliver a balanced outcome. Monies taken off productive farmers must be minimised, and targeted. This will bring active farmers with low payments up at a faster rate, and by more than flattening or a high minimum payment would achieve.”
John Bryan met Commissioner Ciolos on Monday after a protest by farmers at Dublin Castle, where he re-iterated IFA’s opposition to a flat-rate payment with a minimum of €196/ha, saying it wouldn’t work for Ireland. Mr Bryan said he rejected outright the Commissioner’s solution of regionalisation and a co-efficient, as this would decimate payments for active farmers, especially along the Western seaboard.
“The clear message for Commissioner Ciolos was that he must use objective criteria in deciding how to allocate the Single Farm Payment into the future. We also made it clear that greening must be flexible and not add additional bureaucracy.”
He said, “The debate on the SFP Reform must be about the viability of active farmers and support for primary production, which is the bedrock of our largest indigenous industry, maintaining 300,000 jobs and exports of €9bn. A fully-funded Rural Development Programme is critically important in securing a fair and balanced outcome to these negotiations”.