SOME environmental groups promoted ludicrous policies at the European Commission’s two-day conference in Brussels on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Irish Farmers Association has claimed.
IFA president John Bryan said the groups concerned displayed a clear lack of understanding of the importance of EU security of food production, or what sustains the rural economy and enhances the rural environment.
“These people would do well to spend some time out on family farms to educate themselves on the critical role that farm families play in safeguarding the environment and enhancing biodiversity.
“The commission must be very careful in devising future policy that they do not jeopardise the viability of the EU family farm structure and its sustainable food production system.”
Mr Bryan, who also addressed the conference, said the record is there to show that supporting farm families in supplying safe food in a sustainable manner is the most effective way to enhance the rural environment.
Farmers understood the importance of maintaining the environment as part of their work and would resist efforts by these environmentalists to impose their unsustainable version of utopia on the rural economy, he said.
European Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacien Ciolos announced at the close of the conference that he will propose a strong, efficient and balanced CAP in a blueprint to be published in November.
Mr Ciolos said a common vision had emerged of the major challenges that face the sector in the years ahead.
Responses must now be designed for seven major challenges: food production, globalisation, the environment, a territorial approach, diversity and simplification.
“We must seek economic performance, while respecting the balance of nature,” he said.
Mr Ciolos said he wanted to say very clearly that farmers need not be embarrassed because they receive support from public funds. He said the CAP’S first pillar under which direct payments to farmers are made must become the tool which enables the EU to reconcile the economic, environmental, social and territorial dimensions.
Rural Development policy, the CAP’S second pillar, must enable the EU to modernise farms, deploy new support for innovation and promote diversification in rural areas.
It must also help the agriculture sector respond to volatile markets and treat in a horizontal manner the complex challenges linked to climate change.
Mr Ciolos said to be strong the CAP must be simple and understandable. The strength of rural areas is the diversity of the EU’s types of agriculture. It is there the resources will be found to allow the sector to modernise.
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