Smith stresses to EU Commissioner need for continued income support

THE future direction of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was one of the issues discussed at a meeting in Brussels yesterday between Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacien Ciolos.

Mr Smith said he emphasised to the Commissioner the need for a properly resourced common policy and for continued income support for farmers.

“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.

“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.

Meanwhile, 600 delegates are expected to attend a major conference on the future of the CAP which the European Commission will host in Brussels next week.

Mr Ciolos said the July 19-20 conference will seek to draw some conclusions from the recent public debate on the CAP.

He said the report prepared by George Lyon, MEP, which the European Parliament adopted last week, will provide a useful input as the Commission drafts its blueprint on the post-2013 CAP due to be published in November.

Mr Ciolos said the report raises important issues about the need to ensure a better balance at the heart of the CAP between food security and the efficient management of natural resources.

“It also offers interesting ideas on safety net and risk management mechanisms. I note with interest the call to make our policy more understandable to the wider public,” he said.

Copa-Cogeca, the European umbrella bodies for farmers and agri co-ops, has also reminded Belgian Farm Minister Sabine Laruelle, presiding over the EU Farm Council, that the sector provides jobs for 28 million people.

“Maintaining a prosperous agriculture and agri-food sector is therefore crucial in the current economic recession.

“We urge the Belgian presidency to ensure that there is a strong CAP in the future which maintains direct payments to farmers, improves their competitive position and provides services and food to 500 million consumers,” it said.

Marian Harkin, MEP, said the adoption by the European Parliament of the Lyon Report endorsed the maintenance of an adequate budget for agriculture post-2013.

“This clear signal from the Parliament strengthens the hand of the Commission when negotiating the size of the agriculture budget for the future. It was a first positive step towards securing a fair deal for farmers and rural areas.

“I am confident it will set the agenda for the deliberations of the Commission and the Council of Ministers as they co-decide with the European Parliament, the future agriculture and rural development policy for the EU,” she said.


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