RDP, CAP investment under the spotlight

Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív has told AgriLand that he will officially launch his party’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) Reform policy document next Thursday.

“It will cover all aspects of policy relating to Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 issues, including the detailed implementation the new rural development plan (RDP),” he added.

Deputy Ó Cuív refused to give any insights into the range of policy measures that Fianna Fáil will espouse. However, he stressed that its rural development proposals will be based on a commitment by Government to fully co-fund the next programme.

“The Taoiseach gave a pledge to the Irish Farmers Association last year that the Government would commit to the new RDP on the basis of a full co- funding allocation from national resources. And we will be reminding the Government in very clear and forceful terms that it must keep its word on this crucially important matter.”

O’Cuív then went on to point out that the Government is – in fact – being somewhat ingenious, when it claims a 46 per cent co-funding commitment to the next RDP.

“The figure is, in fact, just short of 42 per cent. This comes about because the total fund of €3.94bn, includes some €170m remaining in the allocation of the current RDP.

“And if one works through the figures from this perspective, it works out at a co-funding commitment by the government of 41.7 per cent.”

Ó Cuív has already expressed his disappointment at the unfair nature of the recent CAP allocation announcement, which will last up to 2020.

He said: “The allocation of €10.7bn from the EU for the agriculture sector here is welcome but it is below what was targeted originally. It is also disappointing that the Government could only provide €1.9bn until 2020 for one of the most important industries in the economy. In fact, the Government has failed to live up to its promise of 50:50 CAP co-financing leaving Irish agriculture with a €300m shortfall.

“Under the CAP agreement negotiated by this Government, Pillar II payments are down 23 per cent and Pillar I payments are down 10 per cent taking inflation into account

“With reduced resources available, I believe the way CAP is being applied is inherently unfair and is not based on objective criteria. The Government proposals favour farmers that historically received the highest grants in 2000, 2001 and 2002 irrespective of current farm output. We need a fair deal for family farms but the proposals fall short of that.

“The Pillar II proposals effectively mean a halving of REPS payments compared to REP4 and this will lead to severe hardship for environmentally friendly farmers throughout the country.”

Pictured Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív