Patrick Kent, the National President of the ICSA, has called for the CAP reform to be designed to reward farmers for putting in extra effort, via payment.
He called for the introduction of more schemes like the REPS scheme, rather than ones like GLAS.
“The next CAP must be designed on the principle that those farmers who go the extra mile get paid for doing so. We want schemes that are a lot more like REPS and a lot less like GLAS.”, said Kent at the ICSA AGM and Annual conference in Abbeyleix yesterday.
The theme of the conference was the future of food and farming, with Kent noting the requirements from the government with their approach to CAP, and its funding after Brexit, international trade deals and climate action. He continued by stressing the importance that CAP reforms recognize the real contributions made by farmers, before calling for them to be better rewarded for such.
Mr. Kent said this can be achieved by ensuring that CAP is fully funded.
“ICSA is calling on the Government to do everything in its power to ensure that the CAP is fully funded. We can’t shirk the fact that the UK is leaving and the funding gap must be filled. That means Ireland must step up to the plate.”, Kent stated.
He then continued by noting that the next CAP, must find a way of ensuring the future of the suckler farming sector.
“The next CAP needs to come up with better ways of putting money in the hands of less intensive suckler farmers through a real, meaningful agri-environment scheme that should be focused on climate change deliverables and that should be profitable for farmers who opt in.”, he said.
An attack on Policy Makers:
Kent then followed up these calls, by launching a stinging attack on the policy makers, who blame farmers for climate change. He noted that the 2017 Carbon Majors Report showed that 71% of global emissions are accounted for by 100 fossil fuel companies.
“Farmers are actually helping through carbon sequestration. We are sick and tired of being lectured by vested interests, by misguided environmentalists and by animal rights extremists.”, Kent said.
“We stand ready to implement climate change programmes. But the day of expecting farmers to work for free must end.” , he reiterated.
Mr Kent then suggested that proposals from Brussels, to reduce biofuels produced from European crops, are incomprehensible if they are serious about climate change or if they want to ensure a better future for EU farmers.
Mr Kent said that we need a much more broad strategy for sucklers, rather than a quick-fix being put in place.
“There is no point in a €200 sticking plaster if suckler cow numbers go up and live exports go down. If we are serious about sucklers, factories must commit to paying more for heavy U grade carcasses.” he said.
He then called on a review of the beef grid, for these very reasons.
“For that reason, I am calling for a review of the beef grid. ICSA believes that it is now urgent to move to payment on meat yield and that farmers should get some of the benefits from the fifth quarter bonanza. It’s not about how many suckler cows we have; it’s about how much profit each suckler cow leaves.”, said Mr. Kent.
Mr Kent reiterated ICSA’s opposition to any Mercosur trade deal, that would bring vast quantities of extra beef in to Europe.
He voiced these views, with the continuing uncertainty about what will happen with UK markets arising from Brexit. Ket also addressed the decline in live sheep exports. He called for the removal of the holding period, mandatory prior to live sheep exports, which he says is frustrating the trade. He said he also remains sceptical about the need for EID tagging on lambs, going directly to factories.
Kent concluded his speech, by calling for the reintroduction of the Tillage forum for farmers.