Commenting in advance of the publication of the CAP Post-2013 proposals, the ICMSA President Jackie Cahill said that the needs of active farmers must be a core concern in the reform of the CAP. But he expressed concern that some of the leaked documents indicate that the Commission intends undermining the position of active farmers, and he urged Minister Coveney to secure clarity on certain issues where the wrong policy decisions have the capacity to impact negatively on active farmers almost immediately. The ICMSA President observed that Minister Coveney’s efforts will be judged specifically on his ability to protect the status and payments of active farmers
“The base year issue is obviously an immediate priority given the potential to seriously disrupt the land rental market immediately and for the next number of years. A huge number of active farmers rely on rented/leased land to make their living and the base year proposal has the potential to totally disrupt the normal rental market, unjustifiably raise rental costs, and totally undermine the ability of active farmers to make a living from farming. The Minister must immediately secure agreement that Ireland can opt for a historic base year which would immediately resolve any possible disruption to the land rental market. It is simply not acceptable that active farmers see a major disruption to their farming business while politicians argue for up to two years on the new system. Immediate clarity is required on this matter”, stated Mr Cahill.
“Clearly, there are a number of key issues on which the Minister must focus: the budget, the base year, the method for distributing payments, ‘Greening’, supporting active farmers and possible linear deductions. But prior to all this, it is essential that the overall Irish SFP national envelope is protected and, secondly, that the payments are directed to active farmers. Time and time again in past reforms, the interests of active farmers have been sacrificed, but ICMSA is sending a very clear message that the interests of active farmers must be addressed and we can no longer afford to be subsidising “armchair” farmers at the expense of those who are working the land. People who are actively farming and relying on farming for their income must not lose out under the new regime”, he continued
“With reference to a flat rate payment proposal, it is quite clear that the vast majority of active committed farmers have a payment well in excess of the national average of €270 per hectare and any proposal to restructure payments around a flat rate system would do huge damage to active producers. In respect to ‘Greening’, ICMSA is opposed to this proposal because it simply represents another layer of red tape on top of Cross-Compliance. Our politicians are constantly telling us that we must compete on the world market while simultaneously piling layer upon layer of restrictions on us that simply defeat our efforts at becoming even more competitive. It is quite clear that the existing Cross-Compliance measures more than adequately protect the environment and there is simply no justification for further linking payments to so-called ‘Greening’ policies.
“Under decoupling, Irish farmers have already seen a linear reduction of 13% in their Single Farm Payment. According to the leaked proposals, a further 15% has been suggested. This is simply impossible given that there is no provision for indexation and farmers simply cannot afford further deductions”, he concluded.
Ends. 11 October 2011.
Jackie Cahill, 087-2820663
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office