‘Farmers are put in a Greening straight-jacket out of which they cannot wiggle’

In Europe’s efforts to implement better environmental and climate farming practices, measures such as Greening can put farmers into straight-jackets, Vice President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness has said.

Speaking earlier this week in Brussels at a Farm Europe event, the Fine Gael MEP for the Midlands-North-West said that there is now a challenge of trying to find a system where the environment and climate are supported but at the same time doesn’t frustrate farmers.

“Can we reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in a way that [benefits the] environment and climate but doesn’t frustrate farmers?”

McGuinness said that she has heard nothing that suggests to her that simplification will ever be achieved.

While she said that good progress has been made on simplifying the CAP, from a farmers point of view they think of it on two levels- at departmental level and at farm level.

I think I’m on record at many meetings of the Agriculture Committee saying that the word should be banned, because really and truly, every time we talk about it we create more problems than we solve.

“Maybe we should be a little bit more honest and say that if we’re going on this track, we cannot achieve simplification. So, I’m not inclined to be a fan of that word.

“I would say that when we’re talking about deepening environmental delivery, we are going to make this more complicated.

“By definition, if you have people writing a policy here, it has to be implemented at farm level.”

We put farming into a straight-jacket, a Greening straight-jacket, out of which [farmers] cannot wiggle but which they are very frustrated about being put into.

“I think the real failure of the CAP is that we do not have a holistic approach to environmental and economic sustainability in our minds when we are drafting the text.

“I’ll give that as a challenge to those who are involved in the process, including myself. Farmers do want both – they want environmental and economic sustainability.”

McGuinness said that she thinks the Parliament should heed very well the warning from Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan that the emergency payments for example, the risk management around the dairy crisis, is not sustainable in the long-term and that this is saying that money is a problem.

“And we also should be very honest in saying that when we are looking at new risk management tools, we need to do it in a way to show that they can work and also say very clearly that the money for those policies is old money, recycled money, not new money.

“We have to be honest about these things, because we are fooling our citizens and our farmers.

“Farmers feel that the policy comes from Brussels and is opposed and disconnected from reality. I live on a farm and I deal with farmers all the time, I’m anything but disconnected.

“The farmers I represent are frustrated. The proposals in this document have to land at farm level.”

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