Speaking on the likely impact of the Draft EU Budget, the ICMSA President, Jackie Cahill, said that the first thing attention should be directed to was the national implications of that draft budget.
" Ireland could rapidly become a net contributor to the EU Budget for the first time based on the figures on the Draft EU Budget for the period to 2020. The reduction in the amount allocated to agriculture as a percentage of the budget will bring Ireland in to net contributor status much earlier than expected. This highlights the critical importance of EU farm payments for the whole economy, and not just the farming sector", said Mr Cahill. "In addition, and in relation to the actual agricultural payments, we see serious issues around the conduct of our negotiations at both EU and national level. Specifically we see, with no little regret, attempts to fudge the critical issues and we have to conclude that if certain parties have their way then we're going to have the usual waffle with no genuine intention of getting down to the facts of the matter. That isn't ICMSA's way and we're going to insist on everyone 'standing up' and substantiating any arguments they make or imply".
"On the crucial issue of the Single Farm Payment and based on the figures, the first attack comes from the fact that value of the funding will be eroded over time because of inflation. The second attack lies in the proposal to slice off up to 30 percent of the monies of the Single Farm Payment fund for the so-called "Greening", in what amounts to a virtual REPS-type obligation on farmers, in addition to possible more stringent cross compliance", observed Mr Cahill.
"Furthermore, with the attack on the historic basis of Single Farm Payments and a consequent move towards averaging of payments, the third attack will arise where we could see a reduction in the SFPs paid to active farmers. Those three attacks from Europe on the Single Farm Payment are being added to considerable by the growing demand coming from a small group of people inside and outside farming for a substantial recoupled payment for the suckler cow herds that is to be paid for by other farmers".
"I will state clearly that ICMSA will not tolerate this concerted attack to reduce the Single Farm Payment and the Family Farm income of thousands of farmers who are actively involved in farming. The Minister for Agriculture should be fully conscious that farmers will not subsidise an expansion in the beef herd by taking lower Single Farm Payments than would otherwise be the case. As far as we in ICMSA is concerned, that is a firm marker".
Mr. Cahill said that, in addition to the Single Farm Payment, the figures published last night indicate that there may be a cut in the amount of money being available for market support, specifically, intervention and related measures. These are crucial to prevent the possibility of a meltdown of farm incomes and excessive price volatility. He pointed out that it was precisely these measure that prevented financial ruin for dairy farmers in 2009. Retention of the funds for such measures must be an important priority for the Minister in the CAP reform negotiations.
Ends. 30 June 2011.
Jackie Cahill, 087-2820663
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office