Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Smith fears axing of old SFP system

Martin Ryan

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith has indicated that the historic basis for calculating the Single Farm Payment is unlikely to survive upcoming CAP negotiations.

Minister Smith is to announce the appointment of a consultative stakeholder group this week that will advise on the best policy options for Ireland during the negotiations.

He told farmers attending the ICSA annual general meeting in Limerick that while the historical basis for payment was supported by some other member states, there was little doubt that the number supporting the system was reducing.

Referring to comments made by the EU Agriculture Commissioner-designate, Dacian Ciolos, Minister Smith assured farmers that negotiations were still at the early stages and that he would be meeting the new Commissioner before any proposals were formally tabled.

"I will be outlining, among other things, my position as regards the type of payment system that will best serve the interests of Irish farmers.

"I will also be maintaining close contact with my colleagues," Minister Smith said.

In his inaugural address, the new ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said supermarkets needed to reflect the meaning of corporate social responsibility when they remained unconcerned about the dire straits their current policy was imposing on Irish farmers.

"We want fair trade for Irish farmers. Fair trade is not just about coffee and bananas. It's time it started at home with our beef and lamb," he said.

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He demanded that the Government and EU stop ignoring the "abuse" of powerless farm families by processors and retailers and introduce statutory measures to regulate the margins beyond the farm gate. He said beef farmers needed an immediate price rise to €3.36/kg for prime cattle.

"While we are in favour of a quality pricing grid, farmers won't accept a grid without a price level that makes sense to them and one which makes feeding cattle profitable," Mr Gilmartin said.

"It's disgraceful that Irish beef made 13pc less than English beef and 20pc less than Scottish beef, even though they are selling on the same UK supermarket shelves."

He warned that, as president, he would challenge the power of retailers and processors head on.

"It's time for change and it's time to challenge the power and greed of supermarkets and processors," he added.

Irish Independent