Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Allies sought as report on CAP reform draws closer

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The Government's diplomatic offensive on CAP reform has cranked up a gear as Ireland battles to secure concessions on the overall package, which is due to be published next week.

Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos will present his draft proposals on CAP reform tomorrow week (October 12) and a final lobby is in full swing as member states struggle to influence the final document.

Despite rumours that the Commission was backing away from the 2014 reference year proposal, the manner in which future single farm payments will be calculated, the share-out of the overall EU farm budget among member states, the impact of the greening requirements and the definition of 'active farmers' remain critical issues from an Irish perspective.


Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney met with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire in Paris on Friday as he sought to build alliances in the run up to next week's announcement.

Mr Coveney said that for Ireland to secure a successful outcome on the CAP negotiations, it was important to build alliances with other member states.

The minister also took the opportunity to discuss the evolution of the dairy sector in the run up to the abolition of milk quotas.

Sources in Brussels said that the final detail of the CAP package was still in the melting pot as Commission officials revised and tweaked details of the proposals in response to particular concerns that had been raised.

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However, there appeared to be good news with regard to the 2014 reference year proposal as the Commission is believed to have rowed back on that particular idea due to strong opposition from Ireland and other member states.

The final package will go to the agricultural experts of the other Commission members later this week before being presented to the council of ministers.

And while an EU poll on agriculture shows widespread public support for key elements of the CAP reform package, including payment caps and environmental measures, the IFA has claimed that the proposals threaten the viability of the Irish tillage sector.


The organisation said that increased compliance and production costs, along with reduced land availability, would reduce the arable crop area and have a serious knock-on effect for Ireland's livestock, dairying and mushroom sectors.

IFA grain chairman Noel Delany said that the proposed restriction on the conversion of permanent pasture to arable land to 5pc would severely curtail the availability of land for crop production.

"This proposal will see the repeat of a situation that developed after 1992 when farmers could only crop eligible land, thus forcing many tillage farmers out of business," he said.

He added that crop diversification would force farmers to grow alternative crops simply to satisfy EU bureaucratic regulations.

"Given Ireland's wet climate, limited crop choice, fragmented and often small farm size, crop diversification is not a feasible option for the majority of growers," he added.

"It would create a logistical nightmare for farmers, contractors and the industry and shows how much policy is divorced from reality."

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