Farmers have been taking part in an IFA protest outside the Department of Agriculture today (Mon) as talks resume on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in Luxembourg. The protest sent a strong message to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that he must secure a deal that supports productive agriculture, and he cannot sell-out Irish agriculture.
Meanwhile, IFA President John Bryan and a delegation of National Commodity Chairmen are in Luxembourg for the talks, which are likely to conclude a deal for the next seven years. At a meeting with the Minister this morning, John Bryan again emphasised the importance of safeguarding active, productive farmers in the Reform. “There can be no sell-out of Irish agriculture. The Minister must look to other Member States to strengthen the alliance which is opposed to Commissioner Ciolos, and defend the livelihoods of thousands of farmers who would face significant disruption if the flawed Commission proposals were to be accepted.”
Addressing farmers at the Department of Agriculture, IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey warned the Minister that he must retain the crucial flexibilities that were agreed at the March meeting of the Farm Council. He said, “This week is the defining time for Minister Coveney’s term of office. The future prospects for the sector will be determined by the decisions made in Luxembourg.”
Eddie Downey said, “The Minister simply cannot allow a deal that will devastate productive agriculture. A mandatory minimum payment would destroy the Minister’s own approximation model and lead to a level of redistribution that would be hugely damaging for Irish agriculture. IFA remains opposed to this and other measures such as flattening, regionalisation or a co-efficient”.
“As it stands, many farmers are facing significant cuts. The Minister’s primary focus must be on defending Irish farmers and refusing to accept a deal that could disrupt productive agriculture even more”.
He said, “Since the Minister took office, he has latched onto <i>Food Harvest 2020</i> and promoted it heavily. If he wants to achieve the targets in that plan, then the right outcome on CAP Reform must be delivered. Active, productive farmers will hold the Minister responsible for defending their viability”.
The Minister referred to the outcome of the March Farm Council meeting as a ‘watershed moment’ in terms of the flexibilities secured for Ireland. “If these flexibilities are lost, then it will be a watershed moment for his credibility as a negotiator. Minister Coveney must stand his ground and insist that the deal agreed at the March meeting, which did not include a minimum payment, is retained in the final outcome.”