Decision on Pillar 2 funding is vital

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The on-going debate about the funding of the so-called Pillar 2 of the new CAP Reform programme is vitally important, both from a national point of view and also from a local perspective, said Deputy Paul Connaughton this week.

‘One of the principles of the EU Common Agricultural Policy when Ireland joined up in 1971 was that there would be recognition for the fact that not all acres of land in Ireland are of equal farming value and that is why parts of the country were designated as severely handicapped and the special Disadvantaged Area Payments or as they are now known, area-based payments, were introduced.’

Deputy Connaughton said there is always a tug-of-war match going on between the EU and the government about the various levels of grant aid and who should pay what. ‘However, there is one inescapable fact and that is that a hundred acre farm in county Galway is most unlikely to be as productive as a similar holding in the Golden Vale in counties such as Cork, Limerick and Tipperary. That is why it is vital for farmers on difficult land areas to have access to a worthwhile REPS scheme, a reasonable area-based scheme together with a realistic suckler cow grant scheme to ensure that such farming families can make a reasonable living in the years ahead. I have consistently brought these facts to the notice of An Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Public Service Reform at every opportunity and I hope there will be a sensible outcome to the negotiations.

‘The next five to seven years will be ones of great expansion in Irish agriculture, but it would be a shame if farmers big and small alike in the poorer land areas of the country were left behind and now is the time to put the necessary plans in place,’ Deputy Connaughton concluded.