THE reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will top the agenda when EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacien Ciolos will visit Ireland from September 30 to October 1.
Mr Ciolos will meet with Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith and Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Pat Carey.
He will also meet with stakeholders, address a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Agriculture Committee and visit a farm.
Mr Ciolos, who has already visited other EU member states, is currently preparing a radical reform of the CAP for publication in November.
Mr Smith highlighted the need both for a properly resourced common policy and for continued income support for farmers at a recent meeting with the commissioner.
“Direct payments form a vitally important role in supporting and stabilising our farmers’ incomes and in rewarding them for the environmental and other benefits which they produce,” Mr Smith said.
“I also underlined the importance of measures to encourage competitiveness and the adaptation required at farm level to the ending of milk quotas,” he said.
Mr Smith said he was pleased to receive a very positive response from the commissioner on these issues and will continue to convey and discuss Ireland’s concerns to him when he visits Ireland.
During a recent visit to Sweden, Mr Ciolos said the framework for the future European farm policy must remain “common” because farmers compete in the EU single market.
But there must remain flexibility to allow for the different specificities of agriculture in the different member states and regions of the EU.
He said one of the priorities for the future is to maintain an agricultural presence and the diversity of agriculture in all regions.
“There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach, but the future set-up of the CAP must make it clearer to taxpayers of the broader benefits and public goods that farmers provide through maintaining the land,” he said.
Mr Ciolos, meanwhile, is due to address a congress being held by the European Council of Young Farmers just outside Brussels on Monday next.
The event coincides with an informal Agriculture Council and is an official event on the agenda of the Belgian presidency of the EU.
European young farmers will outline their vision for a modern and rejuvenated agriculture to face the many challenges ahead.
Joris Baecke, president, said: “As young farmers we are fully aware that the ongoing policy developments will affect our futures but also that of European citizens as a whole. It’s about how farming and food will be in the years to come.”
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