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Colreavy, Michael

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Common Agricultural Policy Reform: Statements

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Common Agricultural Policy Reform: Statements

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Common Agricultural Policy Reform: Statements

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Deputy Michael Colreavy

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Michael Colreavy

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Snippet Contents:

My point concerns the scale of the problem. One of the biggest challenges facing farming is the number of farmers aged over 80 years compared to the number aged under 35. This shows an industry that is going nowhere. We have to encourage young farmers to enter agriculture and give them greater access to the agricultural colleges. There is not enough support for young people to get involved in agriculture, which means many will go off to Australia or France, where there are more favourable start-up schemes for those entering farming.
There should also be an incentive for older farmers to lease their land to younger farmers, possibly through reduced tax rates to allow the younger farmers to be competitive in the start-up years. There is also a need to ensure any new scheme will protect farmers who are working leased land. The last thing we want is to see the guys with the big cheque books buying up or leasing land and then stocking it with minimum stock levels. The well paid professionals with the big cheque books will buy or lease land as a money-making venture, rather than as part of Food Harvest 2020, towards which we are all working.
It looks likely that the maximum payment under the single farm payment scheme will be roughly €318 per hectare for the first 30 hectares and €190 for every hectare thereafter, which would provide farmers with a guaranteed income of about €10,000. As Deputy Martin Ferris said, we seek a cap of €50,000, but, recognising the need for a transition, we argue for an immediate limit of €100,000 on individual payments, moving to €50,000 by 2019. The advantage is that it would be free up €150 million that could be used to make a higher per hectare payment and would mean fewer farmers would see their payments fall.
We also favour a situation where the greening payments under pillar II would be directed more at farmers in genuinely disadvantaged areas, rather than the current situation where Pillar 2 funding is more or less distributed across all farmers. Ultimately, the CAP should ensure that as many farmers as possible are kept on the land, which is not only of benefit to the agriculture industry but also to rural Ireland as a whole, given the money that comes into agriculture at local level is generally spent at local level. The last thing we want is a situation where a small number of very large farmers dominate the sector and remove small farmers from the market. A diverse and well supported agriculture sector is the desired outcome of the CAP negotiations.
When he was embarking on the negotiations, I wished the Minister and his negotiating team all the very best and I continue to do so. He has our full support, but we need to be very clear on the principles to which we are working and the features we want to see achieved.