‘Farmer income levels needs to be central to future policy decisions’

Farmer income levels need to be central to future policy decisions, according to Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue.

Deputy McConalogue outlined this view as Fianna Fail launched its proposals to modernise and simplify the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

The party’s leader, Micheal Martin, was also on hand to launch the party’s proposals in relation to CAP reform.

Commenting on the launch, Deputy McConologue said: “These CAP reform proposals are the launchpad of our ‘Farmer First’ policy, which we will roll out across the country in the weeks and months ahead.

There must be collective ambition for the current CAP budget to be increased post-2020 and reverse the cuts made under the 2014-2020 package.

“While the UK exit from the EU will leave a €3 billion hole in the CAP budget, the remaining EU 27 need to show solidarity with their primary producers and secure the livelihoods of farmers across the continent by making additional contributions.

“Via CAP, Irish and European farmers are at the epicentre of our food chain, ensuring we produce the highest quality food worldwide. However, this must be complemented by ensuring that primary producers, which are the backbone of rural communities, can generate sufficient income levels.”

This is why the next CAP programme, post-2020, must therefore ensure farmer income levels are central to future policy decisions, Deputy McConalogue added.

“Direct payments under CAP sustain rural communities and the family model of farming throughout Europe.

“In Ireland, direct payments make up 75% of total farm income. Irish suckler beef and sheep farmers continue to depend exclusively on direct payments for their livelihoods,” he said.

Some key points from Fianna Fail’s proposals includes the need to ensure that policy is aimed at increasing farm profitability and strengthening the position of the primary producer.

It has also been proposed that the maximum payment allowable under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) would be capped at €60,000.

The introduction of fair farm inspections with an end to disproportionate penalties, as well as the need to incentivise generational renewal in farm families was also included in Fianna Fail’s proposals.