Fianna Fáil today (Thursday) launched its alternative CAP proposals aimed at reinforcing the strength of the family farm for the next decade.
Party Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, said the package of proposals put forward by Minister Simon Coveney is flawed and lacks both objectivity and fairness. He also challenged Minister Coveney to a debate on the merits of the Government’s CAP policy on TV, radio or in any hall throughout the country.
“The CAP package negotiated by the government is considerably smaller than its predecessor. The total funding available from Europe under CAP has been reduced, this is of major significance to Irish farming at a time of rising input costs. The Minister’s preoccupation during the negotiations appears to have been focussed on preserving the interests of a small number of farmers in receipt of large grants based on historical circumstances rather than trying to secure a package that would sustain as many family farms as is practicable, which would give all farmers the opportunity to improve their situation.
“I also believe that in the CAP negotiations, not enough emphasis was placed on the need to ensure a fair price for farmers from both multiples and processors. The Minister’s recent national proposals reinforce this. If we want to sustain farming into the future, farmers must be able to receive a fair price for their produce, this is particularly important for highly productive farmers. The CAP agreement should have considerable social and economic implications meaning the purpose of farming is to maintain the family farm at the heart of European farming and to ensure that all farmers, no matter where they are from and irrespective of the size and type of land, would receive a fair return from agriculture.
“Under Pillar I, the Minister has tried to maintain a system based on historic grant payments from 13 years ago; rather than moving to a system that would much more closely reflect current productivity on farms in Ireland.
“Fianna Fáil believes that the individual national proposals represent a real opportunity to put Irish agriculture on a sound footing over the next decade.
Our proposals are much more equitable and are based on the principles of payment centred on current circumstances, equal pay and equal obligation. In relation to Pillar II the Minster has signally failed to provide 50/50 co-funding and in fact has only provided 42% co-funding despite his claims. This has led to a 30% decrease in Rural Development Funding when inflation is taken into account. Fianna Fáil believes that farmers and rural development groups should insist on 50/50 funding and a properly funded Rural Development Programmes.
“The Fianna Fail document proposes the allocation of €300 million from 2014-2020 for the LEADER programme compared to €153 million being proposed by the Minister, it represents a 55% cut on the previous LEADER programme.
“I now call on the Minister to debate the merits of his policy and the Fianna Fáil policy in halls up and down the country; on both radio and TV so that people can evaluate for themselves the merits of each policy and arrive at a democratic decision as to which policy is the best for Ireland.”
Deputy Ó Cuív plans on a nationwide tour to present Fianna Fáil’s counter proposals on CAP and details will be announced shortly.