Subsidies undermining EU farming -- McCarthy
A subsidy regime driven by eco-fundamentalism is making EU agriculture second rate compared to unsupported farming systems, according to Kildare-based tillage farmer Jim McCarthy.
The award-winning farmer said the safety net of subsidies had spawned an indulgent European farmer who felt entitled to the latest tractor with all the "gadgets".
In a wide-ranging speech to the Oxford Farming Conference last week, Mr McCarthy claimed that EU farm payments were holding back the development of scale and productivity gains in commercial agriculture.
He pointed to annual productivity gains of 4-5pc in countries such as New Zealand and Argentina, through the use of cutting-edge technology and rapid advances in scale.
Mr McCarthy contrasted this situation with Europe, where he said the farmer was the most regulated in the world.
He maintained that this was the price that European farmers paid for the €42bn they received annually in farm subsidies.
"We who deem ourselves commercial have traded our silence for our subsidy," he said.
The son of a postman, Mr McCarthy built up a 2,000ac tillage operation in Kildare before he branched out internationally with shareholdings in a 31,000ac arable operation in Argentina and a 7,000-cow dairy in the US. He admitted that he owed his own success to EU farm subsidies, adding that he received an annual single farm payment of €160,000.