Commissioner gets Facebook support from Irish farmers
EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos keeps in touch with Irish farmers on Facebook.
So, he was not too bothered when he saw a large group of them protesting outside Dublin Castle, when he arrived there yesterday.
He said that many other Irish farmers had been contacting him on Facebook – and had told him to stick with the plan to redistribute more of the farm grants from bigger to smaller farmers. "Even in Ireland, some farmers are pleasant with this idea," he said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney bluntly told farming organisations who are lobbying against farm grant cuts for bigger members: "You can't have it both ways".
Mr Coveney is under pressure over the distribution of €1.2bn in funds from the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) deal, with farming organisations arguing that "hobby farmers" are going to gain at the expense of productive farmers.
The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) held a protest outside Dublin Castle over Mr Coveney's approach during his meeting with Mr Ciolos yesterday.
But Mr Coveney said farming organisations who had welcomed parts of the deal, such as the annual bonus of €1,000 for young farmers, were now using these figures to increase the projected "losses" that some farmers would suffer.
"You can't have it both ways . . . I will continue with the approach of trying to find a middle ground," he said.
EU states such as Britain and Germany want every farmer to get the same "flat payment" per hectare but Mr Coveney has been arguing for the changes to be phased in gradually.