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New CAP needs to halt the relentless hammering farmers are taking on prices

Margaret Donnelly


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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

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Margaret Donnelly

This week is the start of negotiations for the future of the CAP and what supports farmers will receive over the coming years.

Such a move would see a potentially significant cut to the CAP budget and would be a huge blow to farmers here. But it is no doubt a first mover advantage - lay down the worst case scenario and any movement on that can be sold as a victory to the national negotiating teams battling to defend the EU's farming budget.

Supports for agriculture have fallen a long way since the 1970s when the CAP accounted for 70pc of EU funds. In the meantime, agriculture has become more efficient, while production has increased.

The consumer has benefited immensely as they've seen their percentage spend on food drop to just around 12pc of household incomes. But it comes at a price - one that is being picked up by farmers.

There has been little improvement in farmers' incomes, with many forced to get on the treadmill of increased scale to have any semblance of a viable income. However, scale comes at a cost when margins are being squeezed from all sides.

But the opportunity is there now to look at reform of food production systems in Europe and not just at farm level.

There is only so much primary producers can endure when it comes to absorbing poor prices and a floor should be put on minimum prices farmers receive.

Part of that comes with a CAP that ensures active farmers are kept in business if the market cannot do so.

With the talk of a major cut to the CAP, which will inevitably hit the viability of many farms, now is the time to ensure that the CAP is protected as much as possible.

It needs to reward farmers, not those making money from farmers.

The onus now falls on the Government to lay down some red lines for Ireland's position on CAP.

But there is also an onus on farming organisations here and across Europe to give us some clarity on what farmers and farming interests need to prioritise.

Indo Farming