Farrelly calls for 'united front' in CAP fund debate
Irish farmers risk losing vital CAP funding if the national debate on proposed changes to the Single Farm Payment (SFP) descends into mere point scoring.
Farm organisations, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture needed to present a united front, insisted Philip Farrelly, one of the country's leading agricultural consultants.
"This issue is too important to have the Department, IFA, ICMSA; everyone singing a different tune. CAP funding requires detailed analysis now and a united front at a high level," he said.
"There is no coherent national policy and, if the policy is left to the last minute, the situation for Irish farmers will only get worse," Mr Farrelly added.
The Dublin-based consultant was highly critical of the recent controversy between IFA president John Bryan and Teagasc economists.
Mr Bryan described Teagasc research on the effect of a move to flat rate payments as ill-timed, divisive and misleading.
"That's not the way to hold the debate, it shouldn't be about scoring points, it should be about getting all the brains together," insisted Mr Farrelly. "If we don't, the country may be a huge loser and production may be a huge loser."
Mr Farrelly said a national forum should be called where all parties could debate the facts of changes to CAP funding.
"Only then can we decide what the best option for the country truly is," he maintained.
"If a fog develops around the facts, we will all get lost in the fog, lost in the argument," Mr Farrelly said.
The farm consultant suggested that Ireland should lay the bare facts of Irish farming on the table and look for additional funding, instead of preparing for reduced support levels.
"The reality is that if we lose any more of our funding, it will push more farmers into a loss-making situation, at a time when the majority of our farming systems are already operating at a loss," he said.
"It is important that we tell the truth about the state of farming and how fundamental subsidies are to food production in this country," he explained.
"We need to show how desperate and completely unviable the farming sectors are without subsidies."
Mr Farrelly described the original decoupling of payments from production as a colossal mistake.
"If our funding gets a serious shudder, it will dislocate people, dislocate production, affect the country's export earnings and leave us dependent on subsidies," he warned.
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