The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Barry Cowen has stressed the need to match the increased environmental ambition in CAP with an appropriate budget to be allocated in order to ensure achievement of this ambition.
Speaking during his first engagement with EU Member State counterparts at a video conference of EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, Minister Cowen stated, “Ireland has always favoured a strong green ambition in the new CAP.
“The recent Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies have highlighted the direction of travel for European Agriculture .
“As we move forward, if we are to deliver on the environmental ambition, we must provide the necessary financial support for farmers.”
The Minister emphasised the need to move quickly to consider the implications of these new strategies on the basis of full impact assessments.
He also pointed to the need for further clarity in relation to specific elements of the CAP reform proposals that will underpin the achievement of environmental objectives, including conditionality and eco-schemes.
Minister Cowen took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of agreeing an EU budget that would facilitate the achievement of a high level of climate ambition.
Putting this also in the context of the agriculture sector’s vitally important role in helping to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, he said, “the core issue here is the funding provided to support the Common Agricultural Policy.
“We need to value, support and, most of all, we need to properly fund, the CAP system that enables this to happen.”
In relation to fisheries, the Commission presented its communication on the state of play and orientation for 2021 fishing opportunities.
Minister Cowen noted the significant progress being made towards delivering sustainability in the fisheries which is of huge importance to Ireland.
Minister Cowen said “there has been considerable progress made in rebuilding fish stocks in recent years under the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy thanks to the efforts made by the fishing sector itself in particular and other stakeholders.
“However, I made clear that we face serious issues involving our quotas shares and access to UK waters as the negotiations with the UK on a new fisheries agreement continue.
“I emphasised that Ireland, as an island nation, is committed to protecting the interests of our fishing industry and will continue to work constructively to meet the challenges that will undoubtedly arise over the coming weeks and months.”
Meanwhile, Minister Cowen chaired his first meeting of the Food Wise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC) to discuss the ongoing economic implications of COVID-19 for the sector, Brexit preparations and progress on the new Agri-food Strategy to 2030.
The meeting was attended by the CEOs and senior officials from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Teagasc, as well as senior officials from relevant Government Departments and agencies.
Minister Cowen said, “As set out in the Programme for Government, farm families and food businesses are the heartbeat of rural Ireland, and we will work with the sector to improve farm incomes and protect the family farm for future generations. We will look to build on Ireland’s green reputation for producing high-quality and sustainable produce at the least environmental cost, ensuring the long-term outlook for the agri-food industry remains positive and vibrant.”