IT’S now apparent that the protection of Northern Ireland’s agricultural production base will become the clear deal maker - or breaker - when it comes to settling the upcoming review of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy).
UFU Policy Director Wesley Aston has told Farming Life that the Union will be holding out for the longest transition period possible, should an agreement be reached to introduce an area based Single Farm Payment system.
“We also want an overall package which allows Northern Ireland to have the flexibility to introduce specific measures that meet the needs of production sectors,” he added.
The Union representative went on to point out that the prospects of a CAP reform deal being reached during the first half of 2013 are becoming more likely.
“We know that the Commission in Brussels has received revised reform proposals from the European Parliament and pressure groups operating across the EU.
“It is now also apparent that whatever deal is reached next year, it will take more than 12 months to have it fully implemented at regional level. As a consequence, it is more than likely that we will see a 12 month extension to thre existing CAP arrangements.
“There is also a growing expectancy that a deal on the EU’s budget through to 2020 will be struck before the end of December. The best that we can hope for here is the retention of the current financing arrangements.”
Wesley Aston was speaking in the wake of comments made by the Irish Farm Minister Simon Coveney, to the effect that Ireland will not sign up to a CAP deal that does not protect the future growth prospects of the country’s farming and food sectors.
The Minister’s statement takes on added significance, given that the Republic of Ireland will host the presidency f the EU during the first half of 2013.
Irish Farmers Association President is extremely concerned about the negative impact of the currently proposed flat-rate Single Farm Payment system as it would cause major disruption at farm level.
He told Simon Covenelt earlier this week that the Irish government must step up its negotiations to ensure an outcome that supports production.
He added: “The future of farming in this country depends greatly on the Single Farm Payment and Rural Development measures for vulnerable sectors and regions, including the option of coupled payments.
“The Minister has set out his alternative model, which would also include reductions in the Single Farm Payment for some of our most productive farmers.
The onus is on Minister Coveney to work with other member states to deliver a CAP Budget and a payment system that does not undermine the sector.”
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