9th March, 2013
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association says getting the balance right on CAP reform will not be an easy task, and stakeholders must face the reality which has been missing from the debate on CAP over recent years.
Speaking at the National Policy Conference on CAP hosted by Fianna Fail in Dublin this morning (Saturday 9th March), ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said, “There is no doubt that a policy like the CAP needs to be updated on an ongoing basis to take account of changing circumstances and to reflect the changing realities on the ground.”
“But there is also a need to ensure stability. There is a need to provide a platform for farmers to plan for the future and to make on-farm investment decisions with some certainty and to ensure that the rug doesn’t get pulled out from under their feet because of sudden overnight changes.”
Mr Gilmartin explained, “We cannot realistically cater for every hectare owned by every landowner in the country who is currently under the average, without destroying active, commercial cattle and sheep farmers who are currently above the average. It is unacceptable to contemplate cutting farmers by 20 or 30 per cent who are in receipt of modest payments, either in terms of the hectare or in terms of the whole farm. As an example, I think of the full time cattle farmer with €500 on 60 hectares, or the full time sheep farmer with €350 on 80 hectares.”
However, Mr Gilmartin added, “On the other hand, I passionately believe that there are many farmers with low payments through no fault of their own who need an increase. We are convinced that there must be a way to target the increase per hectare, rather than allocating it to every hectare in Ireland.”
On Pillar 2, Mr Gilmartin said that rural development payments need to be better targeted at those who need them most, so that the payments can be higher. He noted that cattle and sheep farmers with low Single Farm Payments on wet land are good examples of those who are in particular need of decent Disadvantaged Area Payments and a better agri-environment scheme than AEOS in its current form.
“In conclusion, I want to make it clear that ICSA will be actively lobbying on behalf of farmers on a regular basis with the Department, with the Minister and his officials, and in Brussels where we regularly meet with MEPs, EU officials and our own officials and we will obviously be very proactive in the coming months as the CAP reform moves into a decisive stage.”