'No' to SFP change is unrealistic: Lyon
MEP urges Irish to forget status quo and help shape CAP future
Irish farmers could lose out in the upcoming CAP negotiations if they continue to argue for the historical single farm payment (SFP) model, a leading member of the European Parliament's influential agriculture committee has warned.
"Fighting for the status quo is a recipe for failure," George Lyon MEP maintained.
"If you don't engage with the process and get involved in the future shape of CAP, you lose the argument," the Scottish politician insisted. "The reality is that it is a question of when, not if, the historical payment will be abolished. It is the wrong game to just say no.
"The more sensible battle to fight would be for member states to decide how long to phase out historical payments and how to re-distribute them," he said.
The MEP's stark advice was given at the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference on Friday, where he predicted the CAP post-2013 negotiations would turn out to be one of the most difficult reforms since the original MacSharry reforms of 1992.
Mr Lyon warned of the threat of a triple whammy on the EU budget, leading to a substantial cut in direct payments to Irish farmers.
"Firstly, huge pressure is building up across Europe for budget cuts from finance ministers in cash-strapped member states which need to find savings," he said. "Secondly, there is pressure from those who wish to see the CAP cut and the money directed to other priorities such as climate change and economic recovery through job creation.
"We have already seen that threat emerge in the leaked EU Commission draft budget paper last November.