ICMSA describe EU Farm Council Meeting as Coveney’s ‘Moment of Truth’ and reject coupled payment proposal
Speaking before he flew out to attend the EU Farm Council Meeting, the ICMSA President, John Comer, said that Minister Coveney’s primary objective must be to ensure that Ireland receives the maximum flexibility that will enable us to address the problems that are unique to our situation. Mr Comer listed those areas where that flexibility was most required: “Ireland will need the Minister to secure that flexibility and autonomy in terms of the extent of ‘flattening’, the base year, the definition of an ‘active farmer’, ‘Greening’ and the capping of payments”, said the ICMSA President before moving on to dismiss out-of-hand the proposal from the European Parliament advocating a 15% coupled payment.
“The Minister must limit the extent of linear deductions which appear to be growing by the day and which substantially reduce the payment levels of all farmers. For example, the latest proposal from the EU Parliament that up to 15% coupling payment would be allowed means – in an Irish context – that the average farmer would see his or her Single Farm Payment cut by €1,500 per annum. This is simply not acceptable and ICMSA wishes that certain parties finally realised that raising, or supporting, the possibility of a coupled payment where no new funds are being allocated to the overall budget simply means cutting one farmer’s payment to increase another’s. This is emphatically not new funding; this is just a re-distribution of the same money. ICMSA does not support it and we never will support it. The ‘Iron Rule’ which should apply here is very simple: where there are competing claims for scarce funds that money should – and must – be directed towards active farmers and not armchair farmers Even in normal circumstances, budgets should favour those people dependent on farming for their income. But in situations like this, where the overall budget is being cut and there’s a question around the allocation of a smaller overall budget, then it becomes an absolute imperative that scare funds are spent on those dependent on farming for their livelihoods”, stated Mr Comer.
“We have arrived at the Moment of Truth that will tell us everything we need to know about Minister Coveney’s – and the Government’s – commitment to Irish farming and the wider agri-sector that our farming supports. The viability of Irish farming families and the wider rural communities in which they live depends on Minister Coveney’s ability to deliver on a number of crucial fronts. Every other MemberState acts in its own interest and we’re entitled to expect that, on this occasion, our Government acts in ours”, he concluded.
Ends. 15 March 2013.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office