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There needs to be reasoned debate on reform of the Common Agriculture Policy and everyone who has an interest in our countryside and villages has a stake in that argument.
But the campaign of propaganda, misinformation and bullying currently being conducted by the IFA does a disservice to taxpayers, country people, and the majority of farmers.
What the EU and our Government are trying to do is to introduce a fairer and more sustainable system of Single Farm Payments, one that gives a reasonable, yet modest, payment to all farmers and then lets them get on with the business of farming, to grow and intensify their business and find their reward in the marketplace.
It would do what farm subsidies were always meant to do: to give a foundation to farming so that it could ride out the lean years when farm gate prices do not meet the cost of production.
What the IFA are fighting to retain is essentially a system of ‘Ministers’ Pensions’ for a certain cohort of farmers, chief among them the leadership of the IFA. The flip side of their campaign is that they are trying to deny many thousands of farmers, the quiet majority, the opportunity to ever better their lot.
The model of SFP adopted by Ireland reflected the mindset of the Celtic Tiger era, the cynicism, the sense of entitlement and the absence of any concept of social justice. It was a time of privilege for a few and exclusion for many. And we saw where it got us.
We believe that Mr Coveney is a good minister and that he wants a progressive and prosperous agriculture sector. But he must see, as the European Commission does, that the present system of SFP is unfair and retrograde.
We hope that Minister Coveney is not bullied into submission by the IFA.
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