Worries in regard to price volatility have subsided to some extent, but food prices are still high in an historic context. This is an important element in the understanding of agriculture, according to Tassos Haniotis, a Director at DG Agriculture speaking to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine via a live tele-conference today.

He said it reflects both opportunities for agriculture products in export markets, but also challenges in terms of supply of these products with respect to productivity and sustainable use of natural resources.

“Greening which is a mandatory requirement of famers is central to this approach,” Haniotis said. “But this is not only limited to the proposal that all farmers respect the three mandatory measures. It is also accompanied by a series of other measures that aim at making green much more linked to the specific challenges facing European agriculture”

Haniotis commented that price volatility is a reality to which farmers will have to adjust. “By retaining a basic layer of support which mitigates the effects of volatility. But shifts the targets of what they have away from references of past production, to references reflecting future production. Thus it was linked to land and its use.”

Haniotis was keen to stress that the new measures are not single isolated measures but a set of coherent measures which reflect the specificity of different regions to maximise policy efficiencies. As a result member states are left with a wide array of flexibilities in terms of how to implement decisions in respect to the reforms direct payments.”

He also said that the dilemma faced by all farmers is how to utilise natural resources. “High production costs linked to energy lead producers to the short term temptation of ignoring environmental concerns. From a long-term perspective this would be detrimental to the long term potential of land to support production sustainably.” Today’s hearings are in relation to maximising the potential of land across Ireland.