Comment: Every farmer should cast a vote in the upcoming Euro elections

Any farmer who believes that next month’s Euro election is a fringe event should immediately re-think this point of view. The fact is that the European Parliament is now a key power broker within the EU when it comes to settling all agricultural matters, including the reform of the CAP. In purely technical terms, MEPs have what’s called the ‘power of co-decision. This means that all future reviews of the CAP cannot get the green light until the Parliament says ‘Tá’

In fact, the outgoing group of MEPs had this influence bestowed upon for the very first time when it came to settling the current CAP review at EU level. And the influence of the Parliament is not simply restricted to settling the big policy issues: it has also a role to play in agreeing the ‘delegated texts’ that must be enacted formally by the EU authorities. We saw, at first hand, how this played out a couple of weeks ago when a group of Agricultural Committee MEPs, essentially, held the Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos to ransom, regarding changes they wanted made in the delegated texts. And, what’s more, they got their way!

But, of course, the new CAP reform measures have yet to be fully agreed at national level. And this will, almost certainly, remain the case during the run-up to the election. So for those farmers who are totally bamboozled by the shape the new CAP support measures are taking, why not ask the respective candidates what they make of it all?

These very same candidates should also be in a position to provide detailed guidance to every farmer regarding the future of his or her Single Farm Payment, the ins and outs of the proposed young farmer support measures, what actually constitutes an active farmer and the relevance of the new CAP measures in allowing Irish agriculture meet its Harvest 2020 targets.

Based on the detail of the answers provided, farmers can make a realistic assessment of each hopeful’s candidature credentials.

So, yes, the upcoming EU elections are extremely important for farmers the length and breadth of Ireland. Oh, and one other thing, independent EU election candidates can have as much clout in Brussels and Strasbourg as those aligned to any of the mainstream Irish political parties. This is due to the fact that, once elected, they will – invariably – attach themselves to one or other of the EU’s pan national voting blocks. It is these groups that represent the real power house of European politics!