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ICOS President, Martin Keane with EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan

ICOS President, Martin Keane welcomed the initiatives proposed in the EU’s “Communication on the Future of Food and Farming”, in an address to Commissioner Hogan, at a meeting of the Copa Cogeca Praesidium on 30 November. However he cautions that farmers and co-operatives are facing unprecedented challenges in the coming years and therefore the policy must be supported with sufficient financing and strong and effective market support and risk management tools.

In addition, Keane stated: “We welcome the potential for increased national flexibility within the proposal which will allow us to better address local issues, particularly within environmental schemes. We believe that with a strong and controlled EU framework, we can avoid any potential distortion to competition or the functioning of the single market.”

“We welcome the focus on risk prevention and management, and in particular the call for member states to enable the development of income stabilisation tools to allow the agricultural sector to address volatility, such as the ICOS 555 income deferral scheme, which would allow farmers to defer a small proportion of their income in a good year and draw it down in a bad one.”

“ICOS however opposes mandatory capping and degressive direct support payments. Decoupled direct payments are the main tool that farmers have at their disposal to support and stabilise farm income. Capping and degressive payments would only serve to reduce income for active farmers, who are in most need of this support.”

Mr Keane continued “While there are comments within the Communication on the effective role which producer organisations can have in strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain, ICOS reiterates that co-operatives are the most effective, socially responsible and sustainable form of producer organisation that provide numerous benefits for their members, industry and rural communities. They integrate the role of producer, processor and the marketer, helping to rebalance the food chain, bringing viable incomes to their members and offering a level of protection from market volatility. Therefore we call on the Commission to encourage and protect co-operatives within the upcoming policy reform.”

Read ICOS’s full proposals on CAP Reform here: http://icos.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/2017-April-ICOS-Position-on-the-Future-of-CAP-Post-2020.pdf

Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive

Tags: Martin Keane, Phil Hogan