Speaking today at the National Ploughing Championships the Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Martin Ferris has called for a “robust engagement on CAP reform by Irish negotiators.”
Deputy Ferris said:
“Ireland’s presidency of the EU, beginning in January next year, provides a massive opportunity for an agreement on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. The agricultural industry is of immense importance to the Irish economy. It provides jobs for the economy through farming itself, and also through manufacturing and transport. Therefore, it is of vital importance that Ireland gets a good deal from CAP negotiations.
“The current economic crisis that is gripping Europe, coupled with the crippling austerity measures being imposed throughout the EU member states may see a delay in the progress of CAP reform talks. CAP negotiations are likely to be divisive, with each member state pushing for an agreement that best suits their own economies. That is why it is essential that there is as much progress made as possible on the CAP reform talks made during Ireland’s presidency. We must not let the advantages that this gives us slip away.
“It is time for Ireland to take an assertive stand in its relationship with Europe. The Presidency of the EU should be used as an opportunity for proper engagement and a movement to work towards a more democratic Europe. Ireland must use this opportunity to push for a Europe that invests in its people and a Europe that cares for the wellbeing and living standards of all. This approach should also be applied to the negotiations on CAP reform.
“The Minister for Agriculture must push for a policy that provides enough to keep as many farmers on the land as possible. CAP reform should ensure that all farmers are able to attain an equitable standard of living, while environmental concerns are also addressed. A degree of flexibility must be afforded to farmers in terms of environmental options. CAP reform must be linked with poverty reductions, and a sustainable future should be provided to all. It is essential that disadvantaged areas are protected during any CAP negotiations. Ireland, through the influence of its presidency of the EU, must ensure that there is a fair deal for Irish farmers from the CAP reform negotiations.
“Sinn Féin has outlined a series of proposals on what we believe are the core issues of CAP reform. These range from the CAP budget itself to how funding should be distributed fairly to all farmers. Sinn Féin has also put a significant focus on using the functions of CAP to encourage as many young people, and new entrants, to become involved in agriculture as possible. Farming has the potential to provide a serious level of rejuvenation into rural areas and to reverse the tide of joblessness and emigration.”