Farmers get 86pc of all EU funds for Ireland
FARMERS get over 86pc of EU budget funds given to Ireland, but changing priorities in Europe will have a negative effect on this amount.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith yesterday launched a new initiative to come up with policies that will enable the Irish food industry to survive and thrive into the future.
Launching his Agriculture 2020 Strategy Consultation, Mr Smith said that the sector currently employs over 230,000 people, accounting for 7pc of GDP, 8pc of employment, 10pc of exports and a third of net foreign earnings from the manufacturing industry. But it was also facing significant challenges.
However, with a growing world population meaning more mouths to feed, there were also enormous opportunities in EU and world food and drink markets, he said.
Mr Smith has appointed an expert committee, chaired by dairy expert Dr Sean Brady, to draw up a long-term strategy and is calling for public feedback on what needs to be done to help the sector grow.
Ireland will receive €6.2bn from the Common Agricultural Policy between 2007 and 2013, accounting for over 86pc of EU funds received in this country. But the total EU and farm budget is being reviewed for the 2014 to 2020 period, while Ireland is also set to become a net contributor to the EU within the next couple of years.
CAP reform is also being discussed with a move to equalise farm payments between member states and to change the basis for payments.
"There is a reducing tolerance for payments which achieve little visible results. Payment for environmental benefits and public goods does achieve acceptance, however, there is a growing view that rural development should form part of the wider issue of sustainable development," a department report said.
Other possibilities included a cap on farm payments, an increase in national co-funding and a growing view that rural policies could not continue to be restricted to farming.
"At this stage it is clear that such issues could have negative implications for the amount Ireland receives under the CAP budget", the report said.
It also highlighted the 35pc loss of competitiveness in Ireland between 2000 and 2008, and called for more action from the State and its agencies as well as industry to redress this.