Farmers will only support the proposed reforms to the Common Agriculture Policy if the sector retains its present funding allocation.
This was the message delivered to the IFA executive council in Adare, Co Limerick, by French MEP Joseph Daul, the head of the European People’s Party, the European Parliament grouping to which Fine Gael is affiliated.
Mr Daul said: “The amounts devoted to agriculture over the coming years cannot be less than the amounts allocated for the budget year 2013.
“In the parliament, we will not commit ourselves to anything until we are shown the money. We have made it our new mantra — ‘no money, no vote’.”
Mr Daul also referred to the report prepared by his colleague Albert Dess. “There is a strong emphasis on the need to simplify the CAP, a reduction in bureaucracy, and an emphasis on food security.”
He also said he was aware of Ireland’s concerns about the proposed shift towards a flat-rate system. “I am confident, and I want to reassure you that we will find an appropriate solution.”
On rural development, Mr Daul said: “Especially in times of economic crisis, we need to continue investing in our countryside. My group will insist that rural development measures should principally benefit farmers.”
IFA president John Bryan welcomed Mr Daul’s strong defence of the CAP budget. He pointed out that this is the first time that the parliament has co-decision powers on the outcome of the CAP negotiations. Previously, the view of the European Commission was final.
Mr Daul told the members of the IFA’s executive council and the main commodities represented at the Limerick gathering — namely livestock, dairy, sheep, grain, and rural development — that the voice of the countryside remains very strong in the parliament.
Mr Daul also referred to the upcoming referendum on the fiscal treaty, saying he believed it was important Ireland delivers a yes vote.
Mr Bryan said the IFA would continue to work with the European People’s Party and the Irish MEPs to secure a satisfactory outcome to the CAP negotiations that would safeguard productive farmers, and facilitate growth across all sectors and regions of the country.
The Limerick gathering was also addressed by Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness, who agreed the future of Irish farming was dependant on the EU retaining its present CAP budget allocation for agriculture.
She said: “Difficult political negotiations on the EU budget post-2014 are now beginning in earnest. A positive outcome for agriculture would be that we retain the current agricultural budget.”
However, Ms McGuinness warned that result is by no means certain. She also welcomed the IFA’s support for the fiscal treaty.
She said Article 1 of the treaty states its purpose is to achieve the objectives of sustainable growth, em-ployment, competitiveness, and social cohesion.
“These are very laudable objectives towards which each member of the eurozone must strive. In terms of sustainable growth, sadly, we now know what unsustainable growth looks like and what it can do to a country. However, the silver lining attached to that dark cloud is that there is now a greater appreciation of our natural resources — land, water, human resources. And a greater appreciation of how they need to be developed to deliver sustainable growth, the kind of growth that delivers jobs, lots of jobs,” she said.
Ms McGuinness said while there is no direct link between the treaty and agricultural policy, “passing the treaty provides a path to stability and security which rejecting it would remove”.
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