Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

CAP reform debate lacks any credibility

A relation of mine sold a bulldozer to a man in north Kerry many years ago. To say that the deal was less than fair would be a severe abuse of the word 'less'.

The dozer was beautifully repainted prior to the sale, but sadly, the paint job was the best of the machine. In fact, it had hardly trundled across the county line from west Limerick when, to nobody's surprise but the buyer's, the dozer died.

A flurry of phone calls followed regarding the legitimacy of the transaction, and more importantly, the retrieval of the track machine and repayment of all monies.

The phone calls continued until a senior member of our family decided it was time to intervene.

Not knowing the full facts of the deal, he asked the Kerry man if his relative had lied to him about the machine.

"I'm not calling your relation a liar, Mr O'Brien," the Kerryman replied, "but he is savage careless with the truth."

I was reminded of this story over the past few days while listening to all the spin and counter-spin regarding the CAP reform negotiations.

A serious amount of misinformation masquerading as informed opinion or even fact is being plied by all sides in the debate. Some of it has even managed to make it on to the national airways.

Also Read

In an RTE radio interview with Minister Coveney last Friday, Pat Kenny said that in the view of farmers he had spoken to, Commissioner Ciolos's flat- rate approach to single farm payments (SFP) was influenced by his upbringing in communist Romania.

The obvious implication of such a ridiculous remark was that Commissioner Ciolos had latent communist sympathies. Obviously the farmers Pat Kenny was talking to believe the 'Reds from Romania' are out to steal their SFPs.

That Pat Kenny gave the assertion credence by broadcasting it was in itself disgraceful. It was equally disgraceful that Minister Coveney didn't immediately rubbish the remark.

I don't know who briefed Pat Kenny prior to the interview with Minister Coveney but he seemed particularly intent on representing the views of 'productive' and 'active' farmers. And that's fair enough.

The problem was that there was no mention of the four companies and farmers who receive an SFP of over €300,000 each year, or the eight who receive over €250,000, or the 14 who receive over €200,000; or the 243 who received more than €100,000 in their SFP.

But then, the 51,000 who receive less than €5,000 didn't merit a mention either.

And why was that you'd wonder?

Was it that they're not productive enough?

Or was it that they weren't active enough?

Or was it simply they were just not big and powerful enough?

Irish Independent