Declan O’Brien: Finding a CAP to fit all sizes is a huge task for cornered minister
DIVISIONS among the country's farmers spilt over into the political arena last week, with reports of internal dissension within Fine Gael over of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The difficulties stem from proposals to change the mechanism for distributing the €1.2bn in annual single farm payments (SFP) to the country's 130,000 farmers.
Up to this year a farmer's SFP was based on the output from his/her farm during a reference period from 2000 to 2002. However, Brussels has insisted that major changes to CAP are required to make the policy simpler, greener and more transparent to Europe's taxpayers. Ireland has been landed at the epicentre of this process by virtue of our presidency of the EU.
Responsibility for delivering a new CAP package, to run from 2014 to 2020, now rests with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney. He has until Ireland's presidency finishes on June 30 to devise a compromise package that will be acceptable to the conflicting demands of the union's 27 member states, the EU Commission and the European Parliament.