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Doherty - CAP reform talks must be concluded

23 June, 2003

West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, head of the party's national department of agriculture and rural development has urged Irish Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh and British direct rule agriculture Minster Ian Pearson to ensure that talks on CAP reform are concluded this week.

The Sinn Féin Vice President said:

"With the WTO talks in September and the 10 new countries joining the EU in October it is vital that the CAP talks are concluded this week. The uncertainty is not helping anyone in the farming industry - North or South - to start planning for the wholesale changes that will be brought about by the decoupling of farm payments from production.

"If we fail to break this link then there is a real danger that the USA together with South America and the Asia Pacific would create a trade barrier against the EU. However we have to recognise the need for the EU and all developed countries to deal on a fair basis with developing countries in the forthcoming WTO talks.

"The compromise towards partial decoupling is ill conceived. This means keeping large numbers of animals to maintain incomes through subsidies. This will result in maintaining current levels of production, prices being pushed down and no one earning a living, particularly on the smaller farms we have in Ireland.

"We need to wake up to the potential of decoupling. It will guarantee farmers a certain level of income, not fixed to levels of production and allow farmers to move to a more quality orientated product, involving less stock numbers, which in turn will reduce environmental impacts.

Here in Ireland, Joe Walsh is sitting on the fence. The Irish government was totally opposed to decoupling and everything in the proposals. Walsh maintained that decoupling would create an exodus. The IFA were totally opposed to decoupling. Both criticised Fischler and everything he proposed, crucially they never engaged with the EU or put their counter positions to the Commission until recently."ENDS

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