EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos was here at the invitation of Mairead McGuinness, MEP for Louth - Meath and Ireland East.
He told farmers that he is ready to work to a tunnel model of dealing with the contentious issue of convergence of payments between farmers as part of his proposal to implement a flat rate per hectare payment by 2019, the end period for the reforms due to begin in 2014.
Speaking to over 300 farmers from the auctioneers’ podium in Ardee Livestock Mart, Commissioner Ciolos gave a combative performance, showing a keen awareness of the issues of concern to Irish farmers.
On the issue of moving towards a flat rate payment, the Commissioner said he is ready to work to a tunnel model, with the condition that we have a real process of convergence, “even if we do not achieve 100pc convergence by the end of the budgetary period”, he said.
Commissioner Ciolos told the audience of farmers, farm leaders and agri business representatives that there must be a fairer repartition of payments among farmers which currently vary substantially based on payments farmers received historically. Several farmers warned the Commissioner about the consequences of taking money from farmers as envisaged under his proposals. But he also heard from the floor of the concerns of other farmers about retaining the historic payment model which had left them with very little single farm payments. He added: “I am optimistic that an agreement can be done on the overall level of the EU budget at the November meeting of heads of state and government. “