Payments need to go to active farmers
Following publication of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) consultation paper by the Department of Agriculture, Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President John Bryan said the decisions of Minister Coveney on CAP implementation will be critically important for the future of Irish agriculture, farm incomes and the achievement of the Food Harvest 2020 targets.
Bryan said the IFA has already met with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney TD following the outcome of the CAP negotiations at the end of June and has spelt out the key priority areas for farmers and the agricultural sector.
The IFA President said these priorities include ensuring that the changes to the payments system do not damage productive agriculture, vulnerable sectors are given additional support targeted at active farmers and a strong Pillar II Rural Development Programme is put in place.
Bryan said the IFA has been very clear and consistent throughout the CAP negotiations over the past two years that payments must be directed to active, productive farmers. In addition the IFA has also made clear that payments available for redistribution should be targeted using objective criteria to support active farmers who have low single farm payments (SFP).
He said the IFA also supports targeted redistribution through the Young Farmers Scheme and the National Reserve using objective criteria such as education, training and labour units.
Bryan said IFA has consistently stated that there must be no transfer of funds between Pillars in either direction. The IFA is also opposed to regionalisation and the use of reduction co-efficients.
On rural development, the IFA President said the onus is on the Government to commit to matching EU funding to ensure the implementation of an effective and meaningful rural development programme, which complements the SFP.
Bryan said it is disappointing that the consultation document fails to mention simplification. He said the recent developments on penalties and inspections point to an urgent need for Minister Coveney to introduce meaningful simplification of the payment and cross compliance system including reduced inspections, proper notification and reasonable tolerances.