ICMSA say farmers will be “watching like hawks” Irish performance at Thursday CAP talks as possibility of another General Election looms

 

The President of ICMSA has said that farmers will be “watching like hawks” the degree of determination and strategy that Leo Varadkar will bring to his attendance at Thursday’s crucial CAP 2020 -2027 Budget talks. Pat McCormack said that the Irish negotiators – including the Taoiseach – must bring two overriding principles with them.

“One is a domestic consideration: there may very well be another General Election in the coming months and ICMSA will make it absolutely clear to the farming communities in rural constituencies who did, or did not, support the incomes and integrity of Irish farming and the wider 12 billion-odd agri-food system that depends on Irish farming. Whether in Government or in opposition, we have every right to expect our politicians and representatives to defend a properly funded CAP and that means, at the very least, maintaining current funding and in as close to the current ratio of Pillar I to Pillar II as possible. Ireland has already indicated that we would be willing to increase our contribution and we must insist that other Member States do the same to ‘make good’ the deficit left by the UK’s departure. Failure to do that actually vindicates the false Brexiteer argument and will encourage other reckless and false ‘exit’ campaigns across the EU”, said Pat McCormack.

But Mr. McCormack went on to stress that it was the switch of funding to Pillar II and President Ursula von der Leyen’s reported insistence that 25 percent of the overall Budget be devoted to the fight against climate change that should set alarm bells ringing loudest.

“What we have here – however it is dressed-up – is a policy of making the farmers pay for the so-called ‘just transition’. What President von der Leyen is actually saying is that the same farmers who paid through decades of falling margins and unfair practices by retail corporations that were tolerated, if not actually encouraged by the EU Commission, that those same farmers must now pay for the ‘just transition’ to carbon-neutrality and thus ‘carry the can’ for everyone again. This is hugely important and equally hugely unfair: farmers paid for everyone else for the last three decades of the ‘Cheap Food’ policy and now that that’s been finally pronounced upon as unfair and environmentally-damaging, the same farmers will have to pay for everyone again through cuts to their CAP payments. Farmers paid for everyone while they enjoyed superb quality food at below-cost retail prices and – now that that’s been pinpointed as a problem – farmers must pay everyone else’s share while our food-production systems make this so-called ‘Just Transition’. We absolutely will not tolerate this and I’m saying now that farmers are making their own just transition in terms of voting patterns and politicians who imagine that they can get away again with passing the cost of these enormous economic and social developments back to the farmers – and the farmers alone – had better not be calling to our farms or our communities looking for electoral support”, said Mr. McCormack.

Ends      17 February 2020

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.

Or

Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office