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Ferris Calls for Debate on CAP

20 November, 2007

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, is to seek the adjournment of the Dáil this afternoon to discuss the impending review of the Common Agricultural Policy. Deputy Ferris was responding to this morning's release of a communication from the EU Commission setting the parameters for what it terms a "health check."

Deputy Ferris said: "Coming as this review does four years after the 2003 reform that introduced the Single Farm Payment, it is important that we have a debate here in order to assess whether decoupling and other changes have been beneficial and the extent to which they have impacted on farmers incomes and viability.

"The Commission appears satisfied that the reforms have worked but many people feel that there are ongoing concerns that need to be addressed. Not least of these are the continued downward pressures on farm incomes and the continued reduction in the number of small to medium family farms. I supported the introduction of the Single Farm Payment as offering the possibility of income security wedded to the potential for farmers to move into new areas of production but I am not satisfied that official policy is contributing to that.

"The Government needs to frame a strategy that will address the current problems facing farmers and designed to take best advantage of new opportunities in areas such as energy crops and higher value production. Many observers feel that they have not done so and that as a consequence that Irish agriculture is not taking advantage of new opportunities.

"A careful eye also needs to be kept on some of the proposals contained in the 'health check' which might signal a further reduction in the funding available directly to producers." CRÍOCH

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