Environment & Science Editor Irish farming organizations have condemned the provisional deal on common agricultural policy (CAP) reforms, claiming it is “potentially disastrous” for family farms and risks further undermining viability for thousands of farmers.
Irish Farming Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan said what was agreed was “a bad deal for Irish farmers”.
Speaking in Brussels, he said: “The combined effects of the proposal will decimate a cohort of farmers in Ireland. The Minister [for Agriculture] must push for further flexibility for farmers here.”
He confirmed he would be in contact with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue over the weekend in an effort to secure “flexibilities” for Ireland, when agriculture ministers meet to ratify the deal early next week.
“The Government will also have to make good on their commitments for national co-financing, and on the €1.5 billion from the carbon tax in order to protect the viability of tens of thousands of farmers.
“The EU Commission keep telling us they will do an impact assessment of the green deal and farm-to-fork strategies before any aspects are legislated for. Yet they have been trying to embed them into CAP reform through the back door,” Mr Cullinan said.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president Pat McCormack said the agreement would leave farmers “carrying the climate change can” for both the EU’s consumers and corporations, “with reduced payments tied up with additional terms and conditions”.
The deal “has the potential to be a disaster for Irish farmers and the rural economy that rests on them”, he added.
On new eco-schemes, Mr McCormack said Irish farmers were facing a cut of probably 25 per cent in their greening payment to fund the schemes, with potentially another 10 per cent to 15 per cent to fund frontloading requirements to support small farmers.
Oonagh Duggan, head of advocacy with BirdWatch Ireland, said the deal was ignoring the science on environmental degradation caused by agriculture policy and not acting with any urgency to address it.
She said Mr McConalogue had to use all levers, flexibilities and national exchequer funding to ensure Ireland’s CAP strategic plan goes beyond what is been agreed in this deal and to ramp up environmental ambition.
“We are running out of time to address the loss of habitat for birds and pollinators, poor water quality and rising greenhouse gas emissions. We know farmers want to do much more for nature, and they must be supported to do so.”