The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has stated that the EU Commission must approve the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans drawn up by member states “at the earliest opportunity”.

Charlie McConalogue is today (Monday, March 21) attending a meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels.

EU agriculture ministers are also discussing the impact on food security as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The war is set to have serious consequences for global and European food supply and comes against a backdrop of high input costs for farmers.

The EU Commission is due to provide a detailed response to the situation in a communication on food security and supply chain resilience on Wednesday (March 23).

The commission is open to allowing for increased levels of advance direct payments in October. It is also considering allowing fallow land to be used for grazing or the production of protein crops.

CAP strategic plans

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue echoed a call from his European counterparts today for the commission to approve the CAP strategic plans “at the earliest opportunity”.

“Many of our farmers are planning their farming activities for the new programme period and are seeking clarity on issues such as definitions; conditionality; and eco-scheme requirements.

“It is all the more important in times of crisis to provide certainty and transparency.

“This will be a new challenge for all of us and it will be critical that we get it right.

“We need to work together in order to deliver on all of our objectives: economic; social; and environmental and to move towards greater sustainability in our food production,” the minister said.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski confirmed that 19 member states will be provided with observation letters by the EU Commission on their plans on March 30. It is expected that this will include Ireland.

Minister McConalogue emphasised the need for early and ongoing engagement by the commission with member states. He also stated that the approval process must be transparent and based on legally binding acts.

“Timely approval is vital not just to allow us to intensify and further focus our engagement with farmers and other stakeholders so that they can adjust to the new requirements but also to put in place the administrative arrangements to deliver on those plans.

“We must also acknowledge that our plans were prepared in different circumstances.

“With the overall objectives of the CAP remaining equally valid today, the evolving situation in Ukraine may require the introduction of short term measures using all existing instruments, as well as the potential introduction of new instruments and flexibilities.

“The approval process needs to be able to cope with any such changes,” the minister said.