IFA President John Bryan has met key MEPs in Brussels this week, who are directly involved in the critical trilogue negotiations on CAP Reform between the European Parliament, the Commission and the EU Agriculture Council represented by Minister Simon Coveney under the Irish presidency.
John Bryan met with the Parliament’s lead negotiator and Chair of the Agriculture Committee Paolo de Castro MEP and with the rapporteur on the critical area of direct payments Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos MEP.
The IFA President also met with the shadow rapporteur for the European People’s Party Mairead McGuiness MEP and shadow rapporteur for the Liberal Group George Lyon MEP. The President also held discussions with Irish MEPs Liam Aylward, Jim Higgins, Marian Harkin, Pat the Cope Gallagher, Sean Kelly and Gay Mitchell.
IFA challenged the MEPs to ensure that there is no mandatory minimum payment in the final package agreed between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
John Bryan warned that Commissioner Ciolos’s proposal for a mandatory minimum payment would totally undermine the essential flexibilities contained in the common position agreed by the EU Agriculture Council in March.
“A mandatory minimum payment makes a nonsense of Minister Coveney’s proposal for a more gradual re-distribution through approximation and variable greening, and inflict savage cuts on productive farmers. The Ciolos plan for a minimum payment would impose SFP cuts on many productive farmers over four times the average loss originally indicated by Minister Coveney.”
“Minister Coveney originally said that farmers above the average SFP payment could face cuts of 8% – 10%, with maximum cuts of up to 20% under his approximation proposal. With a minimum payment, some of these farmers would face cuts of over 40%.”
The IFA President said Minister Coveney cannot allow Commissioner Ciolos to undermine the Farm Council agreement of March 19<sup>th</sup> by forcing his agenda of flattening and regionalisation on Irish agriculture. He said “A minimum payment will impose such severe losses on thousands of productive farmers over a short time frame as to make their business unviable”.
John Bryan called on Minister Coveney to show real bottle in defending the Council of Ministers’ position and to totally reject the Ciolos minimum payment proposal in order to prevent the Commissioner from inflicting irreparable damage on Irish agriculture.
IFA is intensifying its campaign against the Ciolos CAP cuts over the next number of weeks, including an all-out campaign with Government TDs and MEPs leading up to the EU Farm Council meeting in Dublin at the end of the month.
The IFA President said it is vitally important that the Government shows a strong commitment to Pillar 2 measures, which are vitally important to support farm incomes in Disadvantaged Areas and through agri-environmental schemes. “These schemes are a key component of farm income and Rural Development measures can be effectively targeted where land quality is a limiting factor and where farmers can make a more significant contribution to environmental management.”
John Bryan said the recent outcome of the EU Budget MFF discussions ensured that Ireland got an annual EU allocation of €313m up to 2020. He said “commitments must now be made by the Government and it is up to Minister Coveney to ensure that this level of funding is matched 50/50 with national co-financing as well as national top-ups over the next 7 years