The plan by the Department of Agriculture to cap the suckler herd under the next CAP has rightly angered farmers. Proposing such a crude measure either points to a complete lack of vision and innovation within the Department or a desire to simply develop policy that will tick a box in Brussels rather than deliver for Irish farmers. As part of the CAP consultation process, farm organisations have the opportunity to shift the direction of travel. But they must come forward with coherent and deliverable policy positions that make clear their vision for the sector.

Attempts to turn the future of agricultural policy into a popularity contest must be avoided. Discussing the impact of various policy measures on the basis of how many farmers will win or lose is a step in this direction. Policy measures should be assessed on the basis on which they support farm families through development of an economic and environmentally sustainable sector.