Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Greater 'public good' focus for future CAP

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Direct payments from Brussels were going to account for a decreasing proportion of farmer income in the future and would be more targeted at delivering "public good".

This stark assessment was delivered by Ireland East MEP, Mairead McGuinness, at the Macra na Feirme national conference which was held in Carlow over the weekend.

Pointing out that the EU farm budget was now capped, Ms McGuinness said farmers should concentrate on improving their on-farm operations so that margins and farm income were increased.

"The overall budget for the EU is down 6pc in 2014 for the first time in the history of Europe, so this changing budgetary dynamic will demand that farmers make more from the market and through production efficiencies," Ms McGuinness said.

"It also demands that policy makers set the right environment to enable farmers get more back from the marketplace, up to and including legislation to deliver a fair return to producers," she added.


Ms McGuinness said there was a need for a considered debate on CAP beyond 2020 but she predicted that it would be more targeted at delivering public good unless there was a serious food crisis in the meantime.

The MEP said that while CAP reform was done, details of how it is to be implemented in Ireland had yet to be finalised, including the roll out of the young farmer top up.

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"The commitment to young farmers in the new cap is important as a signal that agriculture needs renewal," she said.

Sean Coughlan of Macra welcomed the 25pc top-up in payments for all young farmers but he questioned whether the national reserve would be sufficiently well managed.

He described the current national reserve as "disastrous" and "poorly funded".

Mr Coughlan said that the findings in Teagasc's annual report that just two-thirds of farms were viable meant that just the "leanest and most efficient" units would survive.

Irish Independent