The IFA has described the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s CAP consultation process as a “farce”.
Its president, Tim Cullinan, has said the process provides no opportunity for “genuine” consultation.
CAP consultation process
Speaking last night (Tuesday, August 10th), following the meeting, he said:
“The first of the so-called ‘town hall’ meetings tonight did not allow farmers ‘to have their voices heard’ as the minister promised.”
“Only written questions were allowed. These were hidden in a private chat function so that only the questioner could see the question and the answer.”
“Somebody decided to shut down any opportunity to debate issues about a CAP reform which will have significant ramifications for the incomes of farmers.”
“It denies farmers on the ground any input to the debate on funding, which is the elephant in the room on these proposals.”
“The consultation document itself was sent to members of the CAP consultative group as a fait accompli less than an hour before their last meeting, which was called at short notice for the Friday of the August Bank Holiday weekend,” he said.
“While a presentation on proposed schemes was made to the group in May, the Department amended them since that meeting, including a proposed penalty for expanding suckler numbers,” he said
He said the minister and the department cannot “ram” through these proposals based on a “sham” consultation process.
“Whatever definition of ‘town hall’ that you use, the department didn’t meet it.”
“It’s very frustrating. Farmers would have to question the value of participating in meetings organised for Wednesday and Thursday,” he said.
He said there are many other “detailed” aspects of proposals that are unacceptable.
Cullinan outlined that the farm group will make a “comprehensive” submission in consultation with its committees.
However, he stressed that the closing date of August 27th is “far too tight”.
He called on the DAFM to extend the deadline by at least two weeks to “give more time for proper consideration”.
“We want to have extensive dialogue with our membership, something which did not happen tonight,” he concluded.
Upcoming ‘town hall’ meetings
In a statement last week, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, said:
“Stakeholders will have an opportunity to hear more about the modelling at the three virtual townhall meetings on August 10th, 11th and 12th.”
“There will be an opportunity to ask questions on the night or to submit them in advance. “
“In addition, written submissions can be made to my department by post or email until August 27th. There is also an opportunity to complete an online survey.”
He said that the latest modelling paper would provide stakeholders with information on the impact of some of the possible changes in direct payments to farmers.