The amended CAP reform proposals voted on in the European Parliament following a consensus achieved in the Agriculture Committee, are highly significant if complex, according to Ireland East MEP, Mairead McGuinness, one of the key negotiators on the reforms.
The Ardee-born MEP said the development “given the challenges augurs well for Irish agriculture and food, subject to the achievement of a satisfactory outcome on the budget”.
She urged the heads of state to take account of the very delicate food supply balance and the need for a sustainable agriculture.
“Direct supports constitute a significant part of farm incomes and any severe cuts to pillar one or pillar two payments must be resisted,” she said adding that the outcome of the budget discussions will weigh heavily on the future shape of the CAP. And the move to focus supports to payment for public goods will depend on having an adequate budget in place.
“We cannot ask farmers to do more, yet offer less by way of support payments.”
On key aspects of the reform McGuinness reiterated that the parliament is intent on ensuring that direct income supports are paid to active farmers only.
She welcomed the policy document produced by the IFA and said that taking account of labour units on farms and minimum stocking levels were ways of ensuring that money is directed towards the active farmer.
“We want rules at an EU level, but we also insist that member states be given sufficient flexibility to structure the definition of active farmer in a way which sustains their agriculture production and their farm structures.”
On the linking of pillar one payments with more environmental measures McGuinness said the parliament’s approach is to minimise the bureaucracy involved in this new measure and to limit its application to where it is most effective.
“It is also felt that farmers who choose not to carry out the new greening measures should not be penalised.