Declan O'Brien: CAP frustration at boiling point
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.