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European Parliament endorsement of Family Farm model must be followed up with Government & Commission actions - Carthy

27 April, 2017 - by Matt Carthy MEP

The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament on Thursday which calls for further supports for the family-farm structure in the European Union’s agricultural policies.  

Speaking after the vote on the Report ‘State of Play of Farmland Concentration in the EU: How to facilitate the access to land for farmers’, in Brussels Carthy said:

“Small and medium scale family farms play an active role in the economic fabric of rural areas, by conserving the cultural heritage, maintaining rural life, sustaining social life and making use of natural resources. This is in addition to producing high-quality food. Ensuring a broad distribution of land ownership is crucial maintains all of these factors, which have characterised rural Ireland for centuries. Nowhere is the Family Farm model so essential than within rural Ireland.

“That said, there are worrying trends across Europe at the moment with the overall figures showing 3% of farms controlling 50% of the land. High concentration of ownership is one of the main factors contributing to inequalities we see in CAP payments.

“The Report voted through this week taking stock of farmland concentration offers practical solutions to some problems, as well as cementing the small farm structure as the best way of ensuring responsible relationship with the land and sustainable land management.

“In Ireland over the last few months we have seen many farmers targeted by vulture funds, whose only interest is securing assets at the expense of livelihoods, jobs and entire ways of life. The report today calls on national governments to take measures that avoid speculative land transactions as well as recognising the need to curb the rise in farmland prices and rents. This is an area where our own Government is completely failing.

“In the West of Ireland, massive land grabs have taken place over the last year that see the likes of multinational pension companies buying up large swaths of land to plant forestry. This land may never make their way back into the hands of the local communities, yet the Government has done absolutely nothing about it. It has failed to close loopholes in existing legislation that actually encourage these actions at the expense of local farmers.

“I would urge the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his colleague Phil Hogan to read what has been adopted in the European Parliament and to come forward with practical solutions at national and EU level that safeguard our rural areas.” 

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