The viability of tens of thousands of farmers will be put at risk if a proposal to flatten direct farm payments is approved as part of CAP reforms being negotiated by EU agriculture ministers, the IFA claims.
Several hundred farmers gathered outside Dublin Castle yesterday to demonstrate their concern about the impact this measure would have on their viability. The protest was timed to coincide with the visit of EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos.
The IFA in Cork estimates that more than 2,000 farmers gathered outside Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney’s constituency offices in Carrigaline at a similar protest on Saturday. One of their main concerns is that the policy will see funds moved from active farmers toward “hobby” farmers and inactive landlords.
IFA president John Bryan said active, productive farmers of every size and enterprise will lose 20% or more of their income if these proposals are passed. He said primary farm production is the bedrock of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, maintaining 300,000 jobs and exports of €9bn.
“As the CAP proposals stand, a large proportion of what is taken from productive farmers will be redistributed to inactive farmers, who don’t depend on farming for a living,” said Mr Bryan. “Worse still, the more flattening that occurs, the more damage will be done to our ambitions around Food Harvest 2020.”
Mr Bryan said Mr Ciolos’s reform proposals of flattening SFP payments and regionalisation are seriously flawed.
In a meeting with Mr Ciolos yesterday, Mr Bryan also cited observations made by former EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler in Brussels last week. Mr Fischler said: “The Irish difficulties are the most serious of any country, particularly on the beef side.”
Mr Coveney has also made a case for Ireland to be given flexibility in how it distributes its Single Farm Payment. He said other EU agriculture ministers have accepted that alternative distribution models for some member states should be discussed as part of the CAP talks next week.
Meanwhile, the ICMSA said yesterday 80% of dairy farmers would see payments reduced under current CAP reform proposals. ICMSA president John Comer said those calling for movement to a flat payment on every hectare would rob Irish farming and agri-business of its momentum and instead switch the emphasis to subsidising non-farming landowners and part-time “hobby” farmers.
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