It is hard to justify a payment model for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) based on a 20-year-old reference year, according to Minister of state at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle.
Minister Doyle is running for election to the European Parliament in the Ireland South constituency and said reforming the CAP to support active and productive farmers would be one of his priorities.
An immediate move to flat-rate payments was something Minister Doyle said he would be wary of, as it may accidentally result in efficient, productive farmers being placed at a disadvantage.
Speaking to farmers in Portlaoise on Monday 20 May, the Wicklow suckler farmer said the next CAP would place even greater emphasis on the environment: “A really significant priority for me is the environment. The consumer is demanding a greener CAP and it is in the best interests of farmers to deliver it.
“Greater profitability and stronger environmental credentials go hand in hand. But if farmers are being asked to do more, they need to be supported with a strong CAP budget and this is my priority.”
Also present at the meeting was Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, who said there was a significant threat to the CAP budget, both from Brexit and competing demands on the overall EU budget.
The Minister stressed that CAP was vital not only to farmers but also to consumers, as it guaranteed food was produced at the highest standards of food safety and quality.
Farmers in Ireland and Europe had significantly lower incomes than other sectors and market returns were lower than the cost of production, Minister Creed said.
The guaranteed supply of relatively low-cost, safe food to European families was as a result of the CAP.
“The CAP provides farm families with the necessary support to continue this system of production, to the benefit of all of us.
"Without a strong CAP budget, farm families would have to reconsider this way of life and that would be to the detriment of every consumer in the country,” Minister Creed said.
EU election candidates square off on farming and climate
Hogan defends shift in CAP emphasis from rules to results