IFA president Tim Cullinan has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and the Government to act decisively to protect farmers and rural Ireland in advance of upcoming European negotiations on CAP.

The IFA has intensified its CAP campaign with the publication of its Six Key Objectives policy document.

Cullinan said: “Decisions in the coming weeks and months will decide the direction of our sector between now and 2027. We need our Minister for Agriculture to show real mettle during the key negotiations ahead.”

The week beginning 24 May is crucial, with CAP super trilogue discussions between the EU institutions taking place.

In addition, the Council of Agriculture Ministers will also take place that week. The IFA met Charlie McConalogue last week, with Cullinan outlining to the minister the IFA’s six key campaign demands:

  • Minimise the impact of the eco-scheme on farmers’ Basic Payment.
  • Hold the line on 75% internal convergence.
  • Maximise national co-financing of Pillar II farm schemes.
  • €1.5bn of carbon tax revenue for agri-environmental measures.
  • Practical implementation of Good Agricultural Environmental Conditions (GAECs)/cross-compliance.
  • Phasing out of long-term leasing of entitlements, with an appropriate definition of a genuine farmer.
  • Cullinan said: “The minister must ensure that Pillar II schemes such as ANC, GLAS, TAMS, BDGP (suckler cows), the Sheep Welfare Scheme and Organics are properly funded. In addition, we need a new scheme for tillage farmers to stop the exodus from this sector.

    “The EU is going down a dangerous path by moving away from the principle that the CAP ensures food security. Greater ambition on climate action will not be achieved if the viability of primary producers is taken for granted.

    “The value of farm payments has been continuously eroded by inflation and the various reforms over the years. Many farmers are now at a tipping point.”

    All farmers who applied for REAP must be accepted

    IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins said the Results-based Environment Agri Pilot Project (REAP) closes today and is already oversubscribed.

    Current figures suggest the number of applications will be at least double the number of places.

    “While we know it’s a pilot project to run along with the existing schemes for 2021 and 2022, the budget of €10m per annum is totally inadequate to cater for the demand,” he said.

    “Of €79m allocated to agri-environment and other farm support measures in Budget 2021, €56m was EU funding and €23m from the carbon tax. This €23m is a long way short of what should be allocated in 2021 if the Government is to live up to its commitment to allocate €1.5bn from carbon tax to fund a REPS 2-type programme. A commitment was also given that this is to be in addition to CAP Pillar II funding.”

    The rural development chair said: “The high level of applications from farmers is no surprise, given the number who exited AEOS and the new entrants who had no environment scheme open to them.

    “This shows that there is demand for environmental schemes among farmers.

    “We are calling on the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to increase the budget to meet the demand, ensuring all farmers who wish to participate in REAP are given the opportunity to do so.”