Payments under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must go to genuine farmers and Sheikh Mohammed, Coolmore Stud, Larry Goodman and "their likes" are not genuine farmers, IFA president Joe Healy has said.

In his speech on Tuesday at the IFA AGM in the Irish Farm Centre, Healy said that the new CAP proposals make strong reference that payments must go to genuine farmers.

People are entitled to eat what they want, but they are not entitled to spread misinformation, fear and falsehoods about farming and the food we produce

“CAP direct payments can no longer be used to fund Sheikhs and oil barons.

“They should be used for farmers who are up in the middle of the night to calve cows, lamb ewes and work around the clock to harvest crops.

“I don’t think the Sheikh has much experience on the combine or with the calving jack,” he said.

Healy said that the response of the Department of Agriculture appears to be that defining a genuine farmer is too much trouble.

“Well, that’s not good enough. Defining a genuine farmer will be challenging, but we must take it on. CAP funding should go to genuine farmers.”


Healy said that the last CAP saw all per-hectare payments brought up to 60% of the average under the minimum clause and internal convergence.

“This was funded by cutting the per hectare payments of farmers above the average, regardless of how few hectares they had. This had a huge negative impact on those with relatively modest farms and disproportionately impacted on the livestock, sheep and grain farmers who had built up the payments to compensate them for low commodity prices.

“The latest reform proposes that ‘every per-hectare payment’ should be brought up to 75% of the average. The IFA strongly supports this, but it must be funded in a different way.

“It must be upwards only convergence. Reducing the payments of other small and medium sized farmers [the squeezed middle] who have already suffered huge cuts makes no sense.

“The next CAP cannot result in farmers who are already struggling being made unviable.”


On Brexit, the IFA president said that while things have become more fraught in recent times, now is a time for cool heads and steely determination.

He said that the backstop has to remain, unless the UK adjusts its red lines and comes forward with something better.

“We must continue to have unfettered access to our largest market.

“However, as each day goes by, we move closer to the potential cliff edge of a no-deal Brexit. There is plenty of speculation about just how bad the impact will be, on trade, at the border, on the peace process. But we know the damage already done to the price of cattle.

“In a process characterised by uncertainty, the one certainty is that it would be a disaster for Irish farming,” he said.

Healy said that beef farmers in particular are having a torrid time, hit by a triple whammy of bad prices, spiralling costs and reducing direct payments.

“Farmers are angry, frustrated and feel let down by meat factories. While the factories have blamed the devaluation of sterling for poor prices, now that sterling is improving, there isn’t a word out of them. Farmers need a price increase and they need it now.

“In recent weeks, Minister Creed finally recognised that beef farmers are losing their shirts. Well, I can tell the Minister that their shirts are long gone. They have nothing left to give.

“Farmers need €20 per head for every 5c per kilo reduction. The Minister’s wait-and-see approach is not good enough."


Healy also took aim at some European politicians, saying “it’s hypocritical of some European politicians to pursue a Mercosur deal and at the same time preach to us about climate action”.

He said farmers are fed up with taking the rap for every climate ill that exists.

“Nine out of every 10 measures under the CAP have specific environmental or sustainability elements,” Healy pointed out.

Concluding, Healy said that recently farmers have come under attack from all angles.

“People are entitled to eat what they want, but they are not entitled to spread misinformation, fear and falsehoods about farming and the food we produce.

“Since the dawn of civilisation human beings have lived on a balanced diet of meat, dairy, cereals and vegetables. Life expectancy in the countries who can afford meat in their diets has been increasing.

“Farmers in Ireland are being told that we should give up producing meat and milk and instead produce fruit and nuts. Well I can tell people we won’t be getting rid of our livestock. We produce the best food in the world, naturally, from animals grazing in fields.

“I am certain that in years to come people will be glad Ireland stayed doing what we are good at, because our food will be needed.

“We won’t be driven off the land by keyboard warriors, quacks or lifestyle gurus. We are proud to be farmers and we are here to stay.”

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