MEP Mairead McGuinness has told Agriland that she will push for a root and branch review of the CAP, should it transpire that the new support arrangements militate against the sustainable development of Irish agriculture.

“I am concerned that the new land area payments will only serve to increase the cost base for active farmers,” she added.

“And if this turns out to be the case, then the only option open to the farming sector will be that of using the Mid Term CAP Review as a driver to secure fundamental change within the support arrangements.”

With regard to her priorities in Brussels and Strasbourg for the next five years, the Navan-based MEP said that the implementation of the new Pillar 1 support measures, producer prices and the scale of farm input costs will be ongoing issues that must be addressed.

“The new CAP deal has, to all intents and purposes, been sorted. However, the fine detail of what is actually put in place across Europe must be monitored closely,” she added.

“The future of the beef sector in Ireland gives me great cause for concern. Farmers must receive sustainable prices. A key issue is the lack of transparency within the industry. Both the retailers and the meat factories must be challenged on this matter.

“While I recognise that Christine Tacon, the UK’s groceries code adjudicator, has done a very good job, I do not believe that the simple appointment of a regulator will sort out the problems of the EU beef sector.

“This will require the concerted effort of numerous EU Commissioners and the respective agencies at their disposal. Over the past number of years, I have worked tirelessly to make this happen and, as a consequence, a voluntary code of practice has been put in place, specifically directed at the way in which the EU’s supermarkets go about their business.

“But the reality remains that the food chain, where redmeat is concerned, remains fundamentally disjointed. This is an issue which the EU Commission cannot shy away from.

“We have reached the situation where Irish beef farmers totally distrust the meat plants and the way they go about their business. Farmers need to receive prices that reflect their cost base. There is also a requirement to deliver more competition for farmers when it comes to their acquisition of inputs. All of this leads back to the fundamental issue of farm incomes and delivering a sustainable farming industry for the future.”