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The Department of Agriculture and Minister Creed have launched a public consultation on the Shape of the Common Agricultural Policy post 2020, the purpose of which is to inform the position of the government for the upcoming CAP negotiations.

The European Commission published a communication last November on the “Future of Food and Farming”, outlining a general framework for the forthcoming CAP policy. A legislative proposal is expected to be published this June which will then be debated, amended and approved by EU agricultural ministers and MEPs.

This consultation includes a series of public meetings during February, the first of which was held in Carlow on Monday, 5th February.  The location and dates for the next meetings are as follows:

As the DAFM will be expected to listen carefully to what is called for by the majority in this consultation, it is of vital importance that the voice of commercial agriculture is heard. We therefore encourage you to attend these meetings and to call for practical, commercially viable policies.

Keys points to highlight at the meeting:

  • Budget: Irish farmers and co-operatives are facing unprecedented challenges in the coming years as a result of Brexit, climate change and global market volatility. It must therefore be a top government priority to protect the CAP budget within the upcoming discussions on the EU multi-annual financial framework. It is essential that the EU continues to recognise the importance of the CAP in delivering food security, high quality and traceable food for consumers and ensuring a fair standard of living for farmers, their families and rural communities.
  • Risk Management Tools: Further measures must be taken to strengthen current market management measures and make them more effective in dealing with volatility. New tools must also be developed, to help stabilise income, through allowing farmers to defer a small proportion of their income in a good year and draw it down in a bad one. In addition, the CAP must help promote the development of a European futures market, which has the potential to help co-operatives manage volatility through financial hedging.
  • Support for Co-operatives: The CAP must encourage and protect co-operatives, which are the most effective, socially responsible and sustainable form of producer organisation. 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 volatility.
  • Environmental Measures: Environmental measures within the CAP must address local conditions and be practical for commercial farmers. More effective and targeted knowledge sharing and advisory supports are needed for farmers to improve practices in areas such as water quality and climate change mitigation.
  • Young Farmer Supports: Encouraging young farmers and new talent to enter into the agri-industry is a priority for cooperatives, which can be achieved through the inclusion of more targeted measures within the CAP to facilitate setting up new farms and land mobility services.
  • Research and Innovation: Competitiveness & productivity are key requirements for Irish industries in order to meet current global challenges. Innovation within cooperatives also provides new job opportunities in rural communities, enhances social inclusion and improves local infrastructure. The CAP must therefore include dedicated agricultural research and innovation funding, which is accessible to agri-businesses for the real development of products and business and processing structures.
  • Trade: The CAP must place a special focus on trade and commit to furthering the EU’s policy on the promotion of EU food quality and standards worldwide, in order to improve market access for Irish agri-food products globally.

Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive