O’Neill meets EU Agriculture Commissioner to discuss CAP Reform
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today met with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos to discuss the CAP Reform proposals.
This was a joint meeting with the Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman MP, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead MSP and Welsh Deputy Agriculture Minister Alun Davies AM. Minister O’Neill also attended the November EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
Speaking after the meeting the Minister said: “I have maintained from the outset of the CAP reform process that it will be important for our views to be put directly to the EU Commission. During this meeting, which covered a range of reform issues, I emphasised to Commissioner Ciolos the sheer complexity of the proposals and the difficulties this would pose for both farmers and paying agencies, particularly in the areas of active farmers and greening. I was able to share with him some of our own analysis and stressed the need for an effective and workable definition of an active farmer which would make it clear precisely who was eligible for support. I am deeply concerned that the Commission’s current approach will fail in all of these points.”
The Minister continued: “I also share the concerns already being raised by stakeholders on the proposals to green Pillar 1. I highlighted the difficulties that greening would cause in a region such as the north of Ireland, where an already small cereal sector could shrink further, thereby reducing diversity of production and habitats, as well as the potential for some of the greening proposals to undermine our agricultural competitiveness.”
The Minister concluded: “These were very beneficial discussions but we are at an early stage of the CAP reform process and much more work needs to be done in order to obtain the necessary improvements to the reform proposals. I will continue to promote our local interests in Europe robustly and am keen to receive the input of stakeholders to our recently launched consultation to assist me in this process.”