Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, says there must be more discussion and consultation on CAP reform before any major decisions are made at EU or Government level.

Deputy Ó Cuív chaired a meeting on CAP reform in Leitrim last night, where President of the IFA John Bryan addressed the crowd along with the President of ICMSA President John Comer, ICSA President Gabriel Gilmartin and UFU President Harry Sinclair. Deputy Ó Cuív was joined by Senators Marc Mac Sharry and Paschal Mooney at the meeting that was attended by over 200 people.

“The meeting was very constructive and there were quality contributions from many farmers who are genuinely very concerned with the implications of the CAP reform,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

“The farmers were informed of the different proposals that have been put forward for CAP reform from the Minister for Agriculture and the EU. The feeling coming out of the meeting was that a third proposal should be considered. Already the CAP finances will be reduced by 7% in real terms – any further cut is totally unacceptable.

“Fianna Fáil believes that farmers should not be unfairly penalised for living in an area of poor land and the Minister should take this into consideration in the CAP negotiations. I am totally opposed to the idea that there would be land abandonment in marginal land areas due to the low return from the land, this would lead to an ecological disaster in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the country.

Senator Mac Sharry added: “The Single Farm Payment needs to be more fairly distributed, at present 70% of farmers receive less than €10,000 in single payment while the top 2% of farmers receive 12% of the single payment. There is no evidence linking high historic single payments to current productivity, the farmers that really need the payment are losing out.”

Senator Mooney concluded: “We must make agriculture attractive to the next generation and a package of measures should be introduced to encourage and help young people take up farming. Several contributors last night also sought clarity on the definition of ‘active farming’. The majority of those in receipt of the Single Farm Payment must not be penalised to ensure farmers that really need the payment don’t lose out.”