Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Declan O'Brien: CAP frustration at boiling point

Roscommon Reform Alliance TD Denis Naughten
Roscommon Reform Alliance TD Denis Naughten
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The debate around the funding of CAP Pillar II is gathering steam and the next few weeks could be a difficult period for Minister Coveney to negotiate.

Last week at the ICMSA annual general meeting in Limerick the minister indicated that maximising funding for Pillar II was unlikely to be a runner given the poor state of the national finances.

However, this stance isn't cutting much ice with the opposition and even with former Fine Gael colleagues.

The claim by Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesman Eamon Ó Cuív that failure to maximise Pillar II funding could cost the rural economy more than €1.3bn over the next seven years highlights the importance of this decision.

Roscommon TD Denis Naughten summed up the view of many west of Ireland politicians when he said Minister Coveney appeared to be missing the point on co-funding.

"There seems to be an attitude with the Department of Agriculture that exchequer funding for the rural development programme should be about maximising the EU draw-down rather than maximising the economic potential for the agri-food sector," Deputy Naughten said.

The issue is an important one for the IFA. When faced with a revolt over the association's stance on seeking to minimise redistribution of Ireland's €1.2bn single farm payments allocation, IFA president John Bryan told farmers in the west that he had an assurance from Minister Coveney that he would deliver a fully funded Pillar II.

That a fully funded Pillar II is looking very unlikely is not good news for the IFA.

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Alluding to the agreement between Mr Bryan and Minister Coveney, the Leitrim IFA sheep chairman John Joe Dolan summed up farmer frustration when he commented: "It now seems someone was not telling the full truth."

When contacted regarding unease in the west, IFA sources said the game was still not over and the focus could now shift to lobbying the Taoiseach Enda Kenny directly.

Whether this will assuage farmer anger west of the Shannon remains to be seen. But the comments below illustrate farmer feelings on the issue:

"Last February when Pillar I talks didn't seem to be going the way some wanted there was a rally at Minister Coveney's office in Cork. Similar action is now needed on Pillar II but maybe the rally should be at the Taoiseach's office in Castlebar."

Frank McKiernan, IFA chairman, Arigna, Co Roscommon

"I do hope John Bryan will put the best interest of the farmers that elected him to the position he holds ahead of any other ambitions he may have. Delivering on a fully funded Pillar II would prove this."

Theresa Linsbod, Sligo IFA business chairperson

"At this point if the €600m is not delivered (for Pillar II) then it does mean that Pillar I will have to see a much more radical redistribution than the minister or the IFA leadership would wish for."

John Joe Dolan Leitrim IFA sheep chairman

Irish Independent