30 Sep 2021
Strategic Support for the Irish Dairy Sector Necessary
Debate on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) upped several gears with the release of a consultation document on Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan in August.
The power struggle between the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers on the new CAP legislation finally concluded in July, a full three years after Phil Hogan, as Farm Commissioner started the process of reform in 2018.
Attention is now firmly on the Department of Agriculture, which has been tasked for the first time with the responsibility of drafting a National CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), which must be approved by Government before the end of the year. The draft CSP will be subject to European Commission approval in 2022, before the new CAP starts in 2023.
The new CAP will see substantial changes to the structure of Pillar 1 payments with internal convergence set at 85% of the national average payment entitlement, the possible introduction of redistributive payments and the establishment of at least 25% of direct payments allocated to Eco Schemes.
The new CAP will introduce a range of new environmental and climate requirements under the so called “Green Architecture” covering conditionality or base line requirements, the aforementioned Eco Schemes and Pillar II interventions including a new flagship agri-environment and climate scheme.
The new CAP, alongside the Food Vision 2030 Report and the Climate Action Bill will leave an indelible mark on Irish agriculture for years to come.
It is critical that strategic support for Ireland’s largest indigenous industry is maintained by Government. The new CAP must facilitate pathways for new entrants into dairy farming to support a vibrant and sustainable sector. In this context, it is vital that the family farm model of dairy farming in Ireland is strategically protected and supported by Government policy.
The omission of a standalone dairy equipment scheme by the Department in its consultation document is wrong in our view as the provision of grant aid for new dairy equipment greatly enhances and improves milk quality standards, animal welfare and labour efficiency on Irish dairy farms. In addition, the limited options outlined under the draft Eco Scheme proposals is equally worrying. The Department must come forward with a suite of options for CAP Eco Schemes that will be accessible to all farmers including dairy farmers such as milk recording, herd health planning and protected urea.
Eamonn Farrell – Agri Food Policy Executive