Pat McCormack, President of ICMSA
President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the Irish family farm model would be critically undermined under the proposed CAP deal and Ireland will have to insist that Member States are given the necessary flexibility to address country-specific issues in any final deal, if the country is to avoid that scenario.
“ICMSA made a specific proposal to Minster McConalogue whereby farmers under a defined level of payment are exempted from convergence,” he said.
“Convergence is a very crude policy that will severely hit many farmers with a high payment per hectare but low overall payment. Everyone agrees that it doesn’t suit the Irish model and a solution has to be found to this problem.
“We think that much confusion and unfairness can be avoided if we start at this principle: no cuts to any farmer receiving direct payments under Pillar I at a level to be agreed by Member States as part of the CAP Strategic plan. We think that should be our operating principle and that should guide our support or rejection of any new CAP,” said Mr McCormack.
The ICMSA President said that concentration on payment-per-hectare is pointless and misleading and that the focus should be concentrating on total direct payments to an individual farmer.
“Our position – and what we think Ireland’s position should be – is that the new CAP must either set out in the agreement or allow individual Member States the flexibility to leave payments under Pillar I at a level agreed at Member State level untouched. Bluntly, we think that principle must take priority over convergence,” said Mr McCormack.
In relation to Eco-schemes, ICMSA said they operated as a deduction from farmers and the rural economy.
“The Minister must insist that the maximum level must be 20% and that farmers can meet the requirements without any additional costs being imposed on them. CAP is an agricultural policy and we are in grave danger of turning it into a complex and unworkable grand eco strategy that it was never designed to be. It was designed for farming and food and Minister McConalogue’s responsibility is to ensure that CAP works for farmers, protects their incomes, and delivers for the wider food-based rural economy that they make work,” concluded Mr McCormack.
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