Greater 'public good' focus for future CAP
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.