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Support needed for Irish productive farmers during EU CAP negotiations on convergence proposals – Ahearn

25th May 2021 - Senator Garret Ahearn

The Minister for Agriculture must ensure that our commitment to the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) and the convergence process does not make it unfeasible for Irish farmers to enter the agricultural industry, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Garret Ahearn was speaking to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue in the Seanad this morning in advance of three days of negotiations in Brussels on the final agreement of the European CAP.

Senator Ahearn said: “I know that the issue of convergence is of real concern and importance to many Irish farmers. It’s something that comes up time and time again when I’m speaking with fellow farmers across the country.

“At a minimum, we must hold to internal convergence of 75%. We also need decision making power within this, and I welcome the fact that the Minister is looking for more flexibility for the Irish State over the spending of this money.

“We must support convergence to a certain extent, but we also can’t afford to end up in a position where CAP makes it unviable for more farmers to enter into the industry.

“There are a number of other areas of importance to Irish farmers during the EU negotiations, including the minimisation of the impact of eco-schemes on each farmer’s basic payment. Eco-scheme proposals will see 30% of CAP pillar one funding ring-fenced for environmental measures.

“The eco-scheme funding must be paid in addition to basic payments and must not be based on costs incurred on income foregone. If introduced, costs incurred on income foregone will mean further cuts to farm incomes.

“During the last CAP negotiations, in Tipperary alone we lost about €13 million. There is now potential that we could be down an additional €7.5 million if convergence happens again. The magnitude of these losses is hugely damaging to our industry; an industry that is volatile by its very nature.

“We produce food for 50 million people right across the world, but to do that we need the continued backing of our Minister, Government and the EU. Farmers cannot survive without the payments coming from Europe, and we need to reaffirm our support for productive and sustainable farmers going forward.

“I’m calling on the Minister to represent all Irish farmers over the next three days during his negotiations within the European Union,” Senator Ahearn concluded.

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