Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson speaking from the all-Ireland Ploughing Championships in New Ross, Wexford has voiced concerns regarding the future of CAP funding and the issue of direct payments.
Martina Anderson said:
“This year has been a difficult one for our farmers which calls for an assurance that there will be no reduction in the CAP budget or any threat to the direct payments regime which would have devastating repercussions for the agriculture sector here. Any reduction in CAP payments will further discourage young people from commitment to working the land.
“Whist we continue to demand higher quality products and more efficiency from our farmers it is incomprehensible to think we can achieve these outcomes by further reducing farm income. Farmers in the North of Ireland are already operating at a disadvantage to their counterparts in both the South and in England through higher overheads and lower product prices.
“Although Sinn Féin would be the first to point out the many areas where the EU wastes money, the CAP is not one of them.
“Although the Cypriot Presidency’s efforts to achieve consensus on the EU budget, or Multiannual Financial Programme (MFF), are still under discussion, there is no agreement amongst the member states regarding the future size of the budget. There is a special meeting scheduled at the end of November between the EU Heads of State in order to discuss this. We must ensure that a healthy CAP budget is top of the agenda.
“If we are to secure the future of our agri-food sector it is imperative that all Irish MEP’s, North and South oppose and lobby against any downward tampering with the CAP budget or with the direct payment regime as the general discussion seems to be leaning towards reduction in many of the main areas.
“Preserving our agri-food sector is an imperative and its future should not be up for debate. I call on an Taoiseach to use his influence in the run-up to the Irish Presidency of the EU in June to reason with those member states pressing for cuts in this area."