Pat McCormack, ICMSA
In the week when the overall CAP Budget will be announced, the President of ICMSA has said that the single greatest reassurance the EU can provide rural Ireland is through a viable and maintained CAP.
Pat McCormack said it was impossible to overstate how fundamental the direct payments were in ensuring the economic and social viability of large areas of the state and he was particularly critical of the idea – now widespread – that even maintaining the current budget represented the limit of our ambitions.
Mr McCormack pointed out that CAP had always been seen as the price the EU paid for sustainable production of the highest standard food on the planet being made available at affordable prices to the consumers. That remained the reality, he said.
It was the unwillingness of the EU to insist that farmer and primary-producers received a realistic price from the processors and retailers that had led directly to CAP direct payments that were, effectively, at attempt at ‘making up the difference’ and keeping European family farming alive at some level.
“The reality now is that there are whole swathes of Ireland where the overall economy is hugely dependent on the multiplier effect of those direct payments as they go through the farms and out into the wider economy. Any lessening of those payments - of that commitment – has a similar negative multiplier effect and will inflict permanent damage on what is already a very fragile and finely balanced rural economy. The Irish Government must insist that the current CAP budget is maintained and if that means that the remaining Member States make good the deficit arising from the UK’s withdrawal then that is what must happen – and Ireland must indicate that it will increase its contribution proportionately in the expectation that others will do the same. Farmers will very clearly judge the record of this Government in terms of its success in securing an adequate CAP budget as well as progressing the reforms that allow farmers to earn a viable and fair income from farming,” concluded Mr. McCormack.