THE new European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos, who took office yesterday, will meet with the Irish Farmers’ Association in Brussels today.
Mr Ciolos has said his main objectives are to deliver a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that delivers food security for consumers and a decent income for farmers.
IFA president John Bryan said he will stress to Mr Ciolos the importance of the single farm payment for Irish farmers and of securing the maximum CAP budget in the upcoming negotiations on the EU financial perspectives.
Mr Bryan said he had met in recent weeks with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith on the future of the CAP after 2013.
He said he had secured a commitment from the Taoiseach and the minister to strongly defend Ireland’s single farm payment in the upcoming negotiations, and insist on the maintenance of a fully funded CAP budget for this country.
“I will clearly convey the Irish position to the new Commissioner and leave him in no doubt that a continuation of the single farm payment is vital to securing the future of Irish agriculture,” he said.
Mr Bryan said recent Teagasc data outlining the potential impact of a move from the historic to a flat-rate single farm payment system in Ireland misses the point completely. It ignores the implications for all Irish farmers of any reduction in the single farm payment due to a possible cut in the CAP budget or a re-distribution across Europe that will result from a flat-rate system, he said.
Mr Bryan said the Teagasc comments are ill-timed, divisive and misleading as they do not factor in the negative implications for all farmers in Ireland should the overall payments to this country be reduced.
“The public comments also fail to recognise the importance of the CAP in providing benefits for consumers, the rural economy and the environment, through the production of high-quality safe food, renewable energy and other public goods,” he said.
Mr Bryan said Ireland has chosen to retain the historical-based payments system as the most suitable model for maximising Ireland’s payments and rewarding active and productive farmers.
“Any move from a historical-basis to flat-rate payment would result in a loss for Ireland with a major negative impact on agricultural production, exports and the national and rural economy,” he said.
Mr Bryan said Government, policymakers and farmers must work together.
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