Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
I thank Mr. Gleeson for his presentation, which was comprehensive and enlightening. Could he bring us through the process and timelines from here on in respect of how the Commission's proposals will be dealt with at national and European levels? The issue of the budget is still to be resolved and it is the biggest concern overall. Mr. Gleeson has outlined clearly how it will amount to a 4% cut for Pillar 1 payments domestically as well as a 15% cut for the rural development programme. That, of course, is before inflation. When we factor in inflation over a seven year period, the cut is significant. Many of our beef and sheep farmers are 100% dependent on CAP payments. If the budget stays as proposed, has the Department assessed the impact it would have on the sustainability of many of those enterprises? Our top priority has to be trying to ensure that the budget is not cut; rather, we need an increase to ensure inflation is factored in. That has to be our core national objective over the next period.
Mr. Gleeson indicated that there is a coalition at European level seeking to increase the budget. Do all member states accept the Commission's proposed budget at its current benchmark level? Is it the case that the only debate at this stage is seeking consensus on having it increased?
On the capping of payments under Pillar 1, Fianna Fáil took the position early on that they should be capped at €60,000. I would be interested in further detail from Mr. Gleeson about his assessment of the Commission's proposals with regard to the factoring in of labour, what sort of labour can be factored in, and the impact of that at European level. What is his view of the flexibility we have at domestic level in approaching those criteria?
An optional environmental scheme will be mandatory under Pillar 1. What is Mr. Gleeson's assessment of the proposals put forward so far in respect of how onerous that scheme will be and how accessible it will be to farmers across the board? I refer particularly to those who farm intensively. Will they be able to avail of it? The fact that it will comprise up to a third of the payments under Pillar 1 means it will have a significant impact on them.