Fundamental change in the direction of CAP not possible – Minister

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said that a fundamental change to the direction of CAP reform is something we cannot contemplate at the last minute.

He was responding in the Dail yesterday to stringent questions from Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesman Eamon O Cuiv. O Cuiv asked the Minister: “If it is intended to run a public consultation process in June with farmers on the total package of the final draft proposals on Pillars 1 and 2, particularly in view of the fact time is on the Minister’s side?

He said: “Until farmers see the total package there is no way they can make a judgment on whether they think it is fair. Such a consultation process would allow farmers to give feedback to the Minister so he can make final amendments to the aggregate plan.”

However, the Minister responded: “We have had more consultation with farmers and other stakeholders on this CAP reform than on any other agriculture reform. I have spent much time meeting farming organisations and meeting farmers who are not members of farming organisations. We have had a written submission process as well as multiple consultation processes.

Minister Coveney stated: “Next week we will publish a very close to final document as a result of all of this consultation. I do not expect we will open this up to broad consultation and start the process all over again. I know the Deputy would like to do this and he has been trying to do it at some of the meetings he has had with farmers.”

He stressed: “We will not see a whole series of very public stakeholder meetings in the weeks before we finalise a document. We will publish what we have next week and stakeholders, farmers and farming organisations will have an opportunity, if they wish, to express concerns about it. We are at the 11th hour in finalising a comprehensive submission. This has been a two-year process, and my officials would argue it has been a four-year process, and we are at the very end of it.”