Fianna Fail is challenging Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, to debate its counter proposals on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Speaking in Dublin this aftenoon at the launch of an alternative programme, its agricultural spokesman, Eamonn O’Cuiv stressed the new CAP launched two weeks ago was “flawed and lacks both objectivity and fairness”.

“The CAP package negotiated by the Government is considerably smaller than its predecessor. The total funding available from Europe under CAP has been reduced. This is of major significance to Irish farming at a time of rising input costs.”

In addition, he said not enough emphasis was places on the need to ensure a fair price for farmers from both multiples and processors.

In relation to pillar I funding, O’Cuiv said the minister has failed to provide 50:50 co-funding. He claimed in fact the Government has only provided 42 per cent co-funding based on the rollover of €170m from the previous CAP/RDP. “This has led to a decrease in rural development funding when inflation is also taken into account,” he said.

The Fianna Fail alternative CAP document, launched today, proposes 50:50 funding and an allocation transfer of €300m in funding of pillar 2 to pillar 1.

He said this distribution of €300m, would add five per cent to all direct payments to farmers from 2015 onwards and support further the LEADER programme to the tune of €153m. “This will mean that there will be no reduction in payment for farmers because of reduced pillar 1 funding and allocation for young farmers, national reserve and crisis fund.”

He added this would implement an EU agreement in relation to farmers with less than average payment, with the minimum basic payment being 60 per cent of the average payment by 2019.

“This is permissible,” he stressed.

“To fund this, €70m, reduce all payments from the top down rather than as proposed by taking a percentage off all farmers with over average payments and impose a 2015 a ceiling of €150,000 on all pillar 1, with payments payable to one farm enterprise,” he proposed.

The FF spokesman also claimed this will protect farmers between the average payment and over €400/ha from any cutback in the basic scheme and mean that many farmers with higher payments than that will only face cuts in their payment in later years of this CAP.

Between the basic payment and greening, the new CAP has proposed a maximum payment of €700/ha. “Fianna Fail’s policy is to impose a ceiling by 2019 that will ensure that no farmer with between an average payment of €264/ha and €400/ha will gave a cut in their payment and to raise the funding for farmers with below average payments per ha.”

He stressed this policy would protect 86 per cent of farmers from cuts to their basic payment. In terms of greening, he said its proposals would implement flat greening from 2015 rather than variable greening as proposed.

In terms of pillar 2 Rural Development Funding, he said his proposed transfer of €300m to pillar 1 from 2015, would facilitate a 20 per cent increase in ANC DAS payments.

Fianna Fail also proposes a maximum payment under GLAS of €10,000 and not €5,000. “No farmer in receipt f direct payments over €50,000 should be eligible for ANC payments or GLAS payments,” he said.

The Opposition party also claims this redistribution would allow an increase in farm modernisation, from €155m to €290m with higher grant aid levels.

With regards to LEADER funding, he said projects should be maintained at the present levels and not cut by more than 50 per cent from €340m to €153m as planned.

In conclusion, he called on the Minister for Agriculture to debate the merits of Fianna Fail’s policy.

“On both radio and TV so that people can evaluate for themselves the merits of each policy and arrive at a democratic decision as to which policy is best for Ireland.”

Pressed on what were the chances of the uptake of Fianna Fail’s proposed policy, O’Cuiv said he was going to ask the people. “There are two elements. 50:50 co-funding as previously committed and a redistribution proposal, which is of interest to the vast majority of farmers.”

A nationwide tour is now planned, where Fianna Fail will present its counter proposals.