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More than 80pc of farmers seek full convergence – IBLA survey

IBLA has called on the minister to conduct a ‘farm referendum’ on the CAP process

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Farm leaders had mixed reactions to the proposed CAP deal ratified by EU Council

Farm leaders had mixed reactions to the proposed CAP deal ratified by EU Council

Farm leaders had mixed reactions to the proposed CAP deal ratified by EU Council

More than 80pc of the membership of the Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) is in favour of 100pc convergence of direct payments under Ireland’s next CAP programme, survey results show.

After examining documentation on the new CAP for 2023 to 2027, particularly calls for 100pc convergence of farm payments towards the national average of €265/ha, the recently-renamed farm organisation sought member views on this controversial element of the policy reform.

The results of the online survey, found that almost 82pc of members are in favour of “full convergence”, almost 14pc are in favour of “no convergence”, while just 5pc outlined a preference for “85pc convergence” – the current minimum level agreed to in Brussels. 

It comes ahead of, what are expected to be, tense talks between farm leaders and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue this week on the outcome of the CAP deal.

While larger farm organisations, including IFA and ICMSA, have been vocal in their opposition of the new reform; smaller bodies, such as INHFA and IBLA, are set to lobby the minister for a further flattening of payments under Ireland’s national CAP Strategic Plan.

Farm referendum

In a statement Eoin Donnelly of IBLA said: “IBLA recognises the challenge ahead for Minister McConalogue in finding a position that suits all the dominant farm organisations, who are also divided on the distribution of CAP funding and cannot claim to represent all the views of the membership associated to each organisation, such is the division expressed by their members.

“No longer can the chosen few in our society be protected at the cost of the many small family farms throughout Ireland.

“The recent IBLA online survey relating to CAP, and to define how it should be distributed in Ireland, has shown clearly how the wider farming diaspora are thinking about CAP.

“However, if the minister has any doubt about how farmers should be heard and consulted with further, he has the technical capacity through his Department, and also through the Central Statistics Office, to conduct a farm referendum on the issues by utilising the resources of the state to collect the preferred options of the Irish farmers.

“The CSO has vast capabilities to print and deliver such a referendum to every herd number on this island and the CSO can also correlate these results to obtain the will of Irish farmers on how they see the best and fairest distribution of CAP funding and in that process, define what the best result for them from the current CAP process can be.

“The EU has given each member the autonomy to find and put in place, the best approach for their own farmers. This must be carried out in a fair, transparent and democratic way.

“It is time to let farmers decide what they want. IBLA is the only farm organisation to conduct a survey for farmers to gather their preferred options.

“The Minister for Agriculture must carry out the same to allow true democracy take place and allow the farmers have their voice heard on this CAP deal,” Mr Donnelly concluded.

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