Responding to the launch of a public consultation on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) today, IFA President Joe Healy said the fundamental focus must be on ensuring farmers achieve viable incomes in return for the high quality food they produce, and their efforts towards protecting the rural environment and supporting rural development.
The IFA President said key priorities for EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan must be:
- improving farm incomes by securing a stronger CAP budget;
- a properly functioning market that returns a viable price to farmers;
- ensuring that direct payments go to active farmers who protect the environment and produce quality food; and,
- an enhanced Rural Development Programme for farm schemes.
Joe Healy said, “Strong funding for the CAP budget is justified by the multiple benefits the policy brings for all European citizens, in terms of sustainable production of affordable food, environmental protection and economic development.”
He warned against any reduction in the CAP budget as a result of Brexit, saying if EU solidarity means anything, then the budget shortfall must be made good so that farmers are not hit with CAP cuts when the UK leaves.
Joe Healy welcomed Commissioner Hogan’s commitment to making CAP less complex and building on simplification measures in the review, saying he hoped this would reduce the unnecessary stress burden on farmers.
He noted that the future CAP must encourage on-farm investment, improvements in efficiency, support young farmers entering the sector and provide additional instruments to tackle volatility.
The IFA President also welcomed Commissioner Hogan’s indication that he is seeking to develop additional instruments to strengthen farmers’ resilience against volatility. He said any such instruments must be in addition to effective market support measures to protect farm incomes in times of market collapse. “CAP must ensure that family farms are sufficiently protected and equipped to deal with the extreme volatility they are exposed to from multiple sources, including price fluctuation, weather, animal health issues, currency fluctuation, and political events.”
Joe Healy concluded, “In 2017, Commissioner Hogan has committed to acting upon the recommendations of the Agri-Markets Task Force to improve the position of farmers in the supply chain, including regulation of the retail sector, greater price transparency along the supply chain, and enhanced options for contracts for farmers. In parallel with reform of the CAP, these actions are necessary to ensure a properly functioning market that returns a viable price to producers.”
IFA will be consulting widely with members in preparing its response to the consultation on the future CAP.