Two of the countries leading farming organisations outlined their Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform priorities ahead of the publication of a key report on the shape of CAP post-2020, in Brussels this morning. .

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy expressed hopes that confirmation of a fully-funded CAP would be announced.

Chief priorities highlighted by Healy include: proposals focused on including a policy that acknowledges lower-income farmer – both in Ireland and across the European Union (EU) – and also a policy that makes agriculture an attractive sector for young people.

“CAP has served very well in the past,” the president said, stressing the need to preserve funding for current CAP initiatives – particularly in present times.

Healy noted that when CAP was formed, 30% of average household incomes was spent on food. Today, he says, that figure is between 10% and 12% which shows that CAP has been a successful policy since its formation and needs to be maintained.

In the CAP consultation earlier this year on the future of farming, Healy said, sustainability was underlined and the multi-roles of farmers, both as food producers and keepers of the environment, was accepted.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) general secretary, Eddie Punch, was of the opinion that today’s event was overshadowed by the CAP budget uncertainty and that “the next budget overhangs the whole thing”.

The proposals must give a strong commitment to maintaining strong Pillar I payments, which support active farmers. The proposals must also continue to try and make things fairer for young farmers and incorporate less bureaucracy.

Regarding Pillar II, Punch called for proposals for making things much more simple and aimed at “putting money into farmers’ pockets”.

The current set-up, the general secretary said, leaks too much money away from farmers, in favour of advisors and others.

He claims this disparity can be seen in schemes such as the KT (Knowledge Transfer) and GLAS (Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme) programmes.