Farm Ireland

Wednesday 18 July 2018

'A culture change is needed to allow farmers farm without fear'

Ireland's European Commissioner Phil Hogan Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ireland's European Commissioner Phil Hogan Picture: Fergal Phillips
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has said that a culture change must happen to help farmers survive and not worry about their income if they make a mistake.

Speaking on a Facebook live broadcast, the day after the Commission published a paper on the future of the CAP, Hogan said that to-date the CAP has been rules based and sanction based, which all leads to a climate of fear around inspections.

"Some 46pc of farmers incomes for many is from the EU. And if they make a mistake they are worried about income.

"I have tried to reform policy to allow farmer to minimise errors and have asked Member States to help farmers to comply with getting their money."

And he said a culture change is needed to help farmers to survive and get the necessary supports they need so they can continue to provide essential work and goods.

Young farmers, he said, must also be supported and he said he has been promoting the position of young people in agriculture. Member States, he said, can do a lot around encouraging this through incentives such as farm mobility and inheritance tax.

"It's not acceptable that only 6pc of the EU's farmers are under 35," he said.

He also said that smaller and medium-sized farms must be supported more with financial instruments and targeted income supports.

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In relation to the environment, he said that farmers must be motivated to take greater ecological care when farming and that schemes need to be more integrated with set targets for Member States to perform better on environmental and climate targets.

"We have to meet obligations we signed up to," he said and agriculture has to make a bigger level of contribution on environment targets. At the moment farmers across Europe are leaving 14pc of arable land is set aside for biodiversity, more than the 5pc requirement, he said.


A science-based approach is needed when it comes to glyphosate, he said, not one based on popular opinion. And more must be invested in research and science if glyphosate is to be removed from the marketplace.

He said that when it comes to climate change goals, innovation and research will be hugely important in delivering on goals and he said that small and medium sized farmers need to be part of the agri-tech revolution so they an produce food for their families and the EU market and the growing world population, he said.

"We want farmers to be supported as much as possible and that's not easy to achieve on a budgetary basis," he said and that he thinks Member States can target payments better.

The success of the CAP over the past 50 years, he said, is worth continuing with – the jobs, public goods and food it has provided. "But farmers want to see a more simple policy. It's too complex.

"We want more of a input from farmes and Member States to comply with EU wide objectives, so we retain the CAP and mot have distortions of competition."

The Facebook live broadcast took question on the new CAP review proposals, which attracted 323,000 submissions. Taking questions from viewers across Europe, including some Irish questions, Hogan was asked about his favourite food, and said that when in Ireland it's bacon, cabbage and potatoes, but in Brussels it's lamb chops.

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