Hardworking farmers have to be incentivised – Hogan

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said farmers who are being asked to take steps towards sustainable agriculture, under the CAP scheme, must continue to be supported.

“When farmers are being asked to do more for society, farmers have to be incentivised,” Hogan said.

Commissioner Hogan was speaking at the IFA’s Brexit conference at Goffs, Co Kildare, this morning.

Hogan described the Common Agricultural Policy as the most important achievement in the history of the European Union, after peace on the continent.

He also argued that Irish farmers had a moral right to expect food standards to be defended, recalling the hardship of the late 1990s.

“You have gone through the pain,” he said. “[British consumers] will not want hormone beef or chlorine chicken in their supermarkets. All other parts of the world must rise to the standards of Europe and the standards of Ireland.”

Asked whether it might be possible to bring in support measures to deal with the effect of currency fluctuations on Irish farmers, Hogan said: “Maybe we can do more on this”.

“Due to the fall in Sterling, to an extent Brexit has already happened,” Hogan said.

While the UK’s decision to leave the EU is an error, and a lapse in judgement, it is what it is. We must make a success of Brexit.

Hogan said he believed the British government had a weaker negotiating position than it claimed, and that Theresa May’s move to call an early general election last week was a tactical choice to allow for a more moderate negotiating position in exit talks.

“If there’s a larger majority, you’ve more room to manoeuvre. If you’ve a small majority, you’re going to get squeezed by the hardliners who don’t want anything but a hard Brexit.”

Speaking directly to Commissioner Hogan, IFA President Joe Healy said: “You and your colleagues in the European Union cannot allow our livelihoods to be destroyed by Brexit,” said Healy.