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Alison Graham, European Affair Executive

Reacting to the outcome of the votes in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee on proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, which took place last night and this morning (1 & 2 April), Alison Graham, ICOS European Affairs Executive, said:

“While we are concerned about the impact of a number of the proposed measures introduced by Agricultural MEPs, we welcome this step forward in the reform process and the many positive elements they have agreed. This includes approval of the new delivery model and greater flexibility for Member States while maintaining the commonality of the policy, defence of the CAP budget at its current level, strengthening the definition of active farmers to ensure more targeted support, maintenance of the EU school schemes and greater supports for young farmers and new entrants to the sector.”

“These proposals will provide a solid working basis for the new European Parliament, when it is elected in May, which we hope will iron out the remaining difficulties, in discussions together with the Council and Commission, and move the reform process along without further delay.”

Chief among ICOS’s concerns however is the planned “Production Curbing System” within the proposed new rules for the Common Market Organisation (CMO). This supply management tool, which would apply to all economic sectors, including dairy, would impose a levy on farmers who increase their production, in order to finance an aid scheme for farmers who reduce their production, in times of market imbalance.

“ICOS has raised its strong opposition to this proposal among MEPs, which would be hugely damaging to Irish dairy farmers and co-operatives and would serve to undermine the significant on-farm and processing investments made by the industry in recent years.”

“At every opportunity this Parliament has pushed for a return to supply management of the dairy sector through the use of such a tool, ignoring the market realities of the global supply-demand balance.

“There are more effective market management tools already on hand to prevent and address a market disturbance, which do not risk undermining the investment and sustainability of the European dairy sector. We hope that the next Parliament can undo this damaging trend and focus on policy stability so that farmers and the agri-food industry can focus instead on meeting new and evolving environmental objectives.”

ICOS (the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) represents over 130 co-operatives in Ireland – including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts – whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €14 billion, with some 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas