A COMBINED national effort will be needed to secure a properly funded Common Agricultural Policy budget for Ireland after 2013.
That’s what Irish Farmers Association president John Bryan told a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture yesterday.
He urged members of the committee to work together to present a unified front on behalf of Ireland for the negotiations in the coming months.
Mr Bryan warned that it would be a hard, long battle to safeguard funding for Irish farm families, but that the retention of the single farm payment was critical to the future of the agriculture sector in this country. “The Government has committed to defending the CAP budget and is throwing its support behind the existing payment structure.
“I want to see our representatives in Brussels making a very strong case for the single farm payment and rural development payments post-2013.
“Given that enhanced powers have been given to the European Parliament as part of co-decision, this is an opportunity for our MEPs to come together as a cohesive team on behalf of Ireland,” he said.
Mr Bryan said individuals or organisations that fail to support the current system without presenting viable alternatives that protect our national envelope and support our productive farming sector are damaging Ireland’s case in Brussels.
”The Agri-Strategy 2020 committee has set ambitious, but achievable targets for the sector over the next decade, in recognition of the fact that global population and demand for higher value food is increasing and Ireland is well positioned to meet this demand,” he said. Mr Bryan said the opportunities for agriculture and food production are many, but a strong CAP is essential to realise the potential of the sector.
Meanwhile, a new special committee of the European Parliament on the policy challenges and budgetary resources for a sustainable union after 2013 meets for the first time today.
Mairead McGuinness, Ireland East Fine Gael MEP, a member of the committee, said it will deal with the shape and size of the EU budget for the period beyond 2013.
“In line with those priorities and objectives, we will be proposing a structure for the future budget, indicating the main areas of EU activity.
“However, the task will not be an easy one, given the diversity of views held by MEPs and member states,” she said.
Ms McGuinness said there is no doubt, however, given that agriculture accounts for a significant part of the budget, that there will be a battle to retain funding in this area.
She said spending on agriculture policy in the EU has declined from more than 60% of the EU budget in the 1980s to 32% today.
“What is often forgotten is the importance of agriculture beyond the farm gate. We should not underestimate the economic and social importance of food production, agriculture and the rural environment.
“In a world where food production needs to double by 2050, we need to, at minimum, safeguard agriculture funding,” she said.
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