By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Minister Smith defends CAP and expects tough Health Check negotiations

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today robustly defended the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from its critics. "The CAP is an essential part of the EU's policy structure," he said "and this is a view shared by the great majority of Member States". The Minister said that the CAP delivers real benefits not only to farmers but also to consumers and to society in general. "Irish and European agriculture has provided our consumers with a supply of safe, high quality food, and the great majority of people recognise that this is a valuable and worthwhile contribution to our society. The CAP is a vital element in ensuring this. The CAP has also helped to ensure that agriculture is carried out in a manner that is socially and environmentally sustainable", he said.

"CAP payments provide a vital measure of income stabilisation for small family farms. They provide a measure of income certainty which allows the farm family to plan how best to combine its on-farm and off-farm economic activity to ensure its long-term viability. Many European small family farms would simply not survive without the support of the CAP," he said. The alternative would be a Europe of large ranches and that would be bad for our society and our environment.

The Minister drew attention to the increasing importance of environmental benefits from the CAP. Most EU farm payments require farmers to meet strict environmental and other requirements and this delivers real " public goods" in the form of a protected and enhanced rural landscape and the protection of our soil and water resources.

The Minister was speaking in advance of a Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in which he will be involved to what are expected to be tough negotiations on the CAP Health Check.

The Minister said that his priorities for the Health Check included:

  • Seeking sufficient milk quota increases and appropriate market management arrangements to ensure a "soft landing" in preparation for the expiry of quotas in 2015.
  • Ensuring clear, predictable decisions are taken on milk quotas to give policy certainty to producers and to industry.
  • Opposing the substantial increases in compulsory modulation proposed by the Commission.
  • Seeking further simplification of the single payment scheme and cross compliance.
  • Ensuring national discretion in the adjustment of the single payment scheme and the operation of specific supports funded from the single payment ceiling.

"The meeting this week will be a very important one at which the French presidency will be trying to get agreement on a wide range of key outstanding issues in the negotiations. I expect the negotiations to be tough as there are a wide range of views on the big issues, but I am hopeful that a reasonable deal can be done and agreement reached. I have done a great deal of groundwork with the Commission, the Presidency and other Member States and all are aware of my views. I am clear on my priorities and will be pushing them strongly," he said.

Date Released: 17 November 2007