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Minister Smith Responds to Commission Communication on the CAP

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today responded to the communication issued by the Commission on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy towards 2020. Minister Smith welcomed the commitment of the Commission in the communication to a strong CAP in the future and said he subscribed to the three strategic aims that have been identified of ensuring security of food supply, sustainable management of natural resources and maintenance of viable rural areas.

The Minister said "This is just the start of the formal debate that will lead to conclusions in the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on the general orientation of future CAP policy. I am looking forward to this debate. I have been actively engaged with my Ministerial colleagues in other Member States over the last year to build up strategic alliances and to press the Irish viewpoint.  I have also had a number of meetings with the Commission and I am pleased to say that at least some of my concerns have been allayed, notably concerning the continuation of the decoupled direct payments to farmers." 

The Minister noted that it is very early days in the negotiations but said he will continue to do everything to ensure that Irish interests are defended in the proposals that emerge and in the final outcome. "My priorities in these negotiations are to defend payments to Irish farmers, to ensure there are adequate measures in place to support the market in times of crisis and to maintain a strong rural development programme that supports competitiveness and sustainability". The Minister said that the CAP should provide real and effective support for family farms and underpin sustainable food production in the EU by focusing on active farmers.

The Minister also pointed out that the future CAP will set the EU policy framework for the implementation of Ireland's Food Harvest strategy for the development of the agri-food sector to 2020 and it is vital that we have the proper underpinning measures in place.

Date Released: 18 November 2010