Speaking following a meeting with the EU Farm Commissioner, Phil Hogan, the President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack said that ICMSA raised a number of key concerns with the Commissioner and in particular CAP Post 2020, the Mercusor negotiations and the management of the dairy market in 2018.
Quite clearly, the CAP budget post 2020 is a key issue for Irish farmers and ICMSA emphasised the need to at least maintain the current budget post 2020 and the need to support farmers to generate a viable income from farming.
This includes an adequate price support policy along with a direct payment regime that supports farm income with a simplified regulatory system and with a particular focus on protecting the family farm structure.
In addition, Pillar II should provide incentives for farm based renewable energy projects.
With the Mercusor negotiations due to formally reconvene in Paraguay on 5th March, ICMSA told the Commissioner that the Irish beef sector cannot tolerate further concessions particularly in the context of Brexit and that the standards associated with existing concessions need to be addressed to ensure a level playing field for Irish beef producers.
Mercusor represents a major threat to Irish beef and further concessions simply must be rejected.
In relation to dairy market management, ICMSA asked the Commissioner to support the market if required during 2018 including the availability of intervention and to take a cautious approach in relation to the sale of intervention stocks.
Thankfully, the dairy market has shown resilience in recent weeks and certainly, farmers have reason to be more optimistic than pre-Christmas but supports must be available should the market weaken.
Concluding, Mr. McCormack said, that ICMSA stressed to the Commissioner Irish farmer concerns and the need for a structured policy in terms of CAP, trade deals, market management and farm level regulation to protect the family farm structure going forward.