How we got here is that the environmental agenda has effectively hijacked policymaking in Europe, IFA director of policy and chief economist Tadhg Buckley has said.
Speaking at the IFA south Leinster regional meeting to an online audience of over 180 members, Buckley warned: “There's a huge amount of people, at European level, who think the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) isn't going far enough this time around, believe it or not.
“The second reason we're here, where we are, is because of the level of funding being set aside.”
The comments came in response to questions from IFA member James Murphy.
“I still can't figure out why we can't take a stronger position on the eco schemes and state, plain and simple, that the IFA can never support an environmental scheme which imposes a financial penalty on any farmer who is fully compliant with the scheme,” Murphy said.
“What a message to send to farmers about environment schemes, and about having to take on new measures, surely we can dig in harder on that one.
“How the hell did we get here. We've gone from a greening measure to another form of convergence that will now be called an eco scheme.
‘Dereliction of duty’
IFA president Tim Cullinan warned his members: “Between eco schemes and convergence you could be looking at anything up to 37% of a cut in farmers' payments.
“We need simplification here, and our minister has to bloody well ensure next week that whatever he gets out there is to get maximum flexibility. A lot of this is going to be developed at home in schemes that have to go back for approval to Brussels at the back end of the year.”
We allowed politicians, green movements and all sorts of people that know nothing about the business of farming to set the agenda
South Leinster member James Hill suggested that the IFA had shown 'a dereliction of duty' to its farmers.
“We allowed politicians, green movements and all sorts of people that know nothing about the business of farming to set the agenda.
“We weren't out there with our line of defence, outlining the market, produce and the income we derive from it.”
Fit for purpose
Member Adam Goodwin told the meeting he was losing faith in schemes on the back of penalties associated with BEAM compliance.
“It has cost me more money to comply with BEAM than I've got from it. The IFA has also supported the straw chopping scheme. We're facing a cold year with bad yields and now no peat to be used instead of straw,” Goodwin said.
“We now have a scheme being trialled in Oak Park, and damn me they've sown blackgrass with the wildflowers. Blackgrass is one of the biggest threats facing Irish tillage.
“So you expect me to join schemes to try and hold on to my basic payment in effect, while these schemes are not fit for purpose.”
Cullinan briefly addressed the An Taisce High Court appeal against the Glanbia cheese plant in Belview, Co Kilkenny, “considering the fact we’re in south Leinster tonight”.
“What’s going on with Glanbia and the cheese plant down in Belview is nothing short of a disgrace.
"An Taisce have had three attempts at objecting to this now at this stage. They were in the High Court again on Monday seeking a leave to appeal."
Cullinan stated that Judge Richard Humphreys was less than sympathetic to An Taisce during Monday's sitting.
IFA director general Damian McDonald said: “It’s a few zealots conducting a vendetta against us.”