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Sinn Féin Submits Proposals On CAP Reform

1 September, 2003

Sinn Féin has submitted the party's proposals on the CAP reform package to the Department of Agriculture and Food. This will be considered by the Department as part of its promised consultation process on the deal that was agreed at Luxembourg in June.

The party's spokespersons on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD and Assembly Member Gerry McHugh explained that the submission is part of Sinn Féin's ongoing engagement in the debate on CAP reform. They also welcomed the decision by the DUP to send a delegation to Brussels to meet with EU officials on the issue, and pointed out that Sinn Féin had met with members of Commissioner Fischler's cabinet in early summer and had participated fully in the debate long before any other Irish party made any worthwhile contribution.

The text of the Sinn Féin submission reads: 

"Sinn Féin supports the introduction of full decoupling of all EU farm payments. We do so in the belief that this will enable farmers to move away from the current system where production is planned around the receipt of premia and subsidies.

"Once farmers are guaranteed a decoupled single payment they will then be able to plan their production on the basis of demand. This should lead to higher quality and should also have beneficial effects on farm incomes.

"While the reform package has been described as making agriculture more responsive to the market, we believe that the single payment will provide a certain degree of security against the malign effects of an unbridled free market in which most farmers would find it impossible to survive. It is possible in fact that if combined with other mechanisms that the current reform with full decoupling could arrest the current trend whereby thousands of farmers are being forced to leave the sector.

"In support of the reform of CAP, we also advocate the framing of a radical new long-term strategy for Irish farming. A key element of this would be the promotion of higher quality higher value added production and away from the current dependency on the production of cheap bulk products and live exports. This would have massive beneficial effects on our processing industry with extra jobs and improved products for Irish consumers.

"The future of Irish agriculture must also be planned on an all island basis. This must mean that there is closest possible co-operation between the two jurisdictions on the implementation of the reform package.

"We also have to place greater resources into research, to further develop the organic sector and resist the temptation from massive multinational pressure to allow Genetically Modified Organisms on this island. This would contaminate any move to credible organic production, and diminish our ability to export food with safety and quality at its core.

"We are also aware that there are concerns regarding the way in which certain categories of farmer will fare when the decoupled single payment is introduced. This will particularly concern younger farmers, new entrants and dairy farmers. Where current payments or entitlements do not exist or are inadequate we believe that they should be augmented through the national reserve and that the reserve be increased to 5%. We would also favour the establishment of an appeals board comprising, 50% of all the farming organisations, and 50% of the Department to review individual cases".ENDS

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