Farm groups want more clarity on reform of CAP
Greater clarity on key elements of the reform package for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be required before the full impact of the changes can be assessed.
Irish farmer representatives described the proposals as being "broad on outline but short on detail".
While the changes provided the framework for a revamp of EU farm policy, it would take an agreement next summer on the legislative proposals and the new CAP budget to put flesh on the bones, one farmer representative commented.
The reform package, which will form the basis for Europe's agricultural policy from 2013 to 2020, was announced by EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Ciolos in Brussels last week.
Commissioner Ciolos said the programme aimed to deliver a 'greener' CAP that would support 'active' food producers.
He said the new regime would also include a special scheme for 'small farms' and put a ceiling on the level of direct payments which could be drawn down by an individual farmer or farm business.
The decision to retain Disadvantaged Area payments in Pillar II, the rural development arm of CAP, was welcomed by the Irish farm organisations.
Worryingly, however, Commissioner Ciolos reiterated his intention to introduce more equity in the distribution of direct payment between member states and restated his opposition to basing future farm payments on historical production during specified reference periods.