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IFA and Minister bid to halt O Cuiv on CAP reforms

IFA top brass met with Fianna Fail leadership in recent weeks in an attempt to prevent Eamon O Cuiv from pursuing his alternative proposals on CAP reform.

The Fianna Fail agriculture spokesman has floated a number of proposals that fly in the face of the stance that has been adopted by the IFA and the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

They include a cap of €50,000-60,000 on the total amount that any farmer could receive in a Single Farm Payment (SFP), along with new maximum and minimum amounts that would be payable per hectare.

Deputy O Cuiv admitted that a delegation from the IFA had expressed concerns about the ideas he was promoting to a number of key Fianna Fail party TDs.

"However, when I explained at a subsequent parliamentary meeting what I was attempting to achieve, I received a lot of support from my party colleagues to continue on this path," said Mr O Cuiv.

"This isn't about pitching east versus west, because there are marginal areas in every county in the country. 46pc of the Disadvantaged Area payments go to farmers in Leinster and Munster.

"But farmers in these areas rely heavily on Pillar II supports, and if these supports bear the brunt of the cuts in the upcoming EU budgetary negotiations, then these farmers must have greater access to Pillar I supports such as the Single Farm Payment," he said.

However, in response to Deputy O Cuiv's proposals for new mandatory caps on payments per hectare and per farm, Minister Simon Coveney said that Pillar I payments were never meant to be a social welfare scheme.



"It's taken me a year to get traction on my set of proposals within Europe. I don't want to unravel that by launching new approaches being pushed by

Eamon O Cuiv. These proposals are a bit late now that we're nearly three quarters of the way through the negotiations," said Minister Coveney.

The minister also expressed his doubts about the feasibility of a cap of €50,000 on all individual payments.

"A €50,000 cap is a non-runner in my opinion. Our proposals are designed to avoid a situation where a farmer sees his payment increase by thousands of percent. And in fact, some farmers will be happy to hear that if and when a deal is done, there will actually be more re-distribution than what we have proposed."

Deputy O Cuiv's nationwide series of CAP reform information meetings continue with dates in Adare, Maam, Tipperary and Slane over the next fortnight. Deputy O Cuiv said that the meetings will continue until the end of January, when he will come forward with more detailed alternatives on CAP reform.

"There is a need for an open debate on the various proposals put forward. Many farmers are still unaware of the alternatives and we will meet with them and seek their input," he said.

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