Calleary on CAP: Green ambition should be matched with appropriate budget

Increased environmental ambitions set forth under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be matched with an appropriate budget, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary.

Minister Calleary was speaking during a meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council of Ministers in Brussels today, Monday, July 20.

‘Open dialogue’

Speaking in his first European engagement as in his agriculture brief, Minister Calleary said: “We are ready for an open dialogue between member states and the commission to explore how best to achieve our environmental ambition in light of these strategies.

“These should be following an ongoing dialogue with the member states and should follow the approach of the new CAP with subsidiarity in member states to develop their options based on their SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] and needs analysis.

Key to all of this is the allocation of an appropriate budget. A lot is being asked of our farmers; we cannot ask this if we are not willing to support them.

Turning to the topic of eco schemes, Minister Calleary said:

“Ireland supports mandatory eco schemes, but we are concerned about the risk of unspent funds.

“Any proposal to ringfence funding for eco schemes would exacerbate that risk. I cannot accept that member states who raise their environmental ambition by allocating funds to eco schemes should see the loss of any funds.

We’ve always considered that, in the spirit of the new CAP, member states would make their own decisions on the appropriate level of funding for eco schemes.

“As we move to a final position on the green architecture, we can only do that if we have certainty over the level of funding and there can be no possibility of losing funding programme for eco.

‘Tiered’ eco schemes

“It is also important to note that a ringfenced percentage is not the only factor to show increased ambition.

“What we do with eco schemes and what they achieve will determine that.

We would welcome guidance and examples from the commission to support us to draw up our eco schemes.

“While operating as an annual scheme, it should be possible to have tiered eco schemes which can take account of both intensive and extensive production schemes,” Minister Calleary concluded.