AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney has expressed his hope that his fellow EU ministers will sign off on the controversial farm grant deal next week.
It comes at a time when he is under pressure over the distribution of the funds from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with farmers groups arguing that "hobby farmers" are going to gain at the expense of productive farmers. Mr Coveney said that in his role as chair of the negotiations under the Irish EU Presidency, he hoped to get agreement on the deal with fellow EU Agriculture ministers next week.
"My job is to find a middle ground that every country can live with. Every country will have to compromise," he said.
Under the new arrangements brought in under the Lisbon Treaty, the backing of the European Parliament will also have to be secured to implement the new CAP deal.
Mr Coveney was speaking along with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş at a meeting of young farmers in the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin. Mr Coveney said it would take at least a year for the new payment arrangements to be put in place- meaning that it would be 2015 before it was fully up and running.
He also said he supported making it mandatory rather than voluntary for all EU countries to give an extra €1,000 per year grant to young farmers aged under 40 to help them establish their farms. There are currently more farmers as many farmers aged over 80 in charge of farms as there are aged under 35.
Macra na Feirme, which represents young farmers, is strongly in favour of this part of the new CAP deal.
Its president Alan Jagoe, said the payment of €1,000 per year for five years to young farmers was essential to help them get on their feet.
"If they don't support the next generation of Irish farmers, the work that my parents and the generations before them have done will all go in vain, because the young farmers simply won't be there to farm the land'" he said.
Macra na Feirme is leaving the lobbying campaign on the main CAP deal to the Irish Farmers Association. But its stance is similar to the IFA - it does not want "armchair farmers" who are not doing any active work on their land to get increases in their EU single farm payment grants at the expenses of "productive farmers".
The IFA earlier held a protest outside Dublin Castle where Mr Coveney was meeting EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş.