“We can see the value of food production in this country. Therefore, it is important that we protect the farm families where there is productivity.”
Those were the sentiments of Fianna Fáil Senator, Malcolm Byrne, as he shared his views on the Basic Payment Scheme’s format in the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) during a debate last week.
Addressing the Seanad, he said: “Under the Common Agricultural Policy, as we know, he was successful in that we have maintained a certain level of discretion that allows us to make our own call on the level of convergence.”
“It is important that we continue to support the productive farmers in this country. I do not believe that we should go beyond a rate of 85% convergence.”
“Even if we moved to a rate of 85%, many farmers would lose out. That includes many small farmers simply because they have high entitlement values.”
He acknowledged that now is a “really difficult time” for agriculture and said farmers will be at the front line in the climate change battle.
“Farmers are committed to sustainability. But, they want not just sustainability from an environmental perspective but that family farms are financially sustainable.”
Young farmers and farm families
He referred to Minister McConalogue’s meeting with representatives of Wexford IFA.
Senator Byrne said the group made several “constructive” proposals under Pillar II.
“There has been much discussion. I tabled a commencement matter in this House, on how we can support young farmers.”
Finally, he stressed that it is a “real concern” that only 5% of people involved in farming are under 35 years.
“I ask the leader to arrange a debate on the future of farming, food production and ways to ensure the sustainability of farming not just environmentally, which is critical, but also that there is financial sustainability for family farms,” he concluded.