CAP focus on 'greening' is met with cool reaction

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The proposal that 30pc of core CAP funding should be directed to environmental measures or 'greening' and suggestions of a weakening of market management measures have provoked concern among farmer bodies.

The changes were included in the EU budget proposals for the period 2014 to 2020, which were announced last Wednesday in Brussels.

While there was widespread relief that the CAP budget was held at 2013 levels for the period -- €371.7bn, which equates to an annual spend of €53bn for the seven years -- but reservations have been expressed regarding the greening stipulation.Details of how this environmental target might be met have still not emerged, but industry representatives have warned that it could have serious implications for commercial operators, particularly in the tillage sector.

Commenting on the 'greening' proposal, ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said it demonstrated the increasing environmental focus of CAP.

However, he insisted that Irish farmers could cope with any such measures if enforced in a reasonable manner.

"I believe that the grassland farming practised in Ireland, along with rotational tillage, is fully compliant with these objectives and the critical thing will be to ensure that the greening concept does not become overly bureaucratic," Mr Gilmartin claimed.

The dilution of funding, such as intervention and aid to private storage and its replacement with an annual fund of €500m for market crises and unforeseen problems, has been described by ICMSA general secretary Ciaran Dolan as "worrying".

He pointed out that market control mechanisms were increasingly important given the greater volatility in world market prices.

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Mr Dolan pointed out that the value of intervention and the aid to private storage scheme had been seen in 2009 when they helped to put a floor under milk prices at a time when a total collapse loomed.

Meanwhile, IFA president John Bryan expressed his disappointment that direct payments will not be index linked for the period 2014-2020.


The static nature of the CAP funding means that the value of direct payments to farmers could fall by as much as 15pc in real terms during seven years of the forthcoming budgetary term. However, the EU budget proposals were defended by Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos who described the funding package as a good result.

Commissioner Ciolos said the proposals were in line with his reform objectives for CAP.

The reform process now moves up a gear, with Commissioner Ciolos due to table firm proposals on CAP reform and spending this November.

The EU budget negotiations and CAP reform talks will take place in parallel through next year, and could drag into the Irish presidency in the second half of 2013.

"Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, must engage with other member states in the negotiations ahead to ensure that Ireland secures its full envelope of funding, and active producers are fully supported," Mr Bryan said.

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