“Irish Agriculture requires a special deal from the European Union as it grabbles with the challenges from Brexit, and plummeting agri-prices,” said the Fianna Fáil Food and Horticulture Spokesperson, Jackie Cahill TD as he took party in a Fianna Fáil delegation to the European institutions where he met with a number of senior European leaders in Brussels last week.
In a series of high levels meetings with the European Commission, European Parliament, European Council, and the Irish Farmers Association, Jackie was joined by Spokesperson on Food and Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue TD.
Specific meetings took place with senior members of Commissioner Hogan’s Cabinet, with the Co-ordinator of the European Parliament’s Agri committee, Jan Huitema MEP as well as senior officials from the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU and DG AGRI.
“I was particularly pleased to meet with President of the Irish Farmer’s Association, Joe Healy who outlined the IFA’s work in Brussels in securing the best possible outcomes for Irish farmers, and the agriculture industry.”
“It’s important that all interested parties start engaging at a European level as the EU Commission has indicated that discussions on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy will begin in 2017,” added Cahill.
“In every one of our meetings, we emphasised how vital CAP funding and direct payments are to Irish farmers. They are a key enabler in sustaining rural communities and maintaining employment levels.”
“The CAP has a key role to play in meeting global demographic challenges and ensure that the primary producer continues to farm the land, maintain their rural enterprise and generational renewal.”
“As well as CAP, we raised the challenges that are directly affecting Irish agriculture as a result of Brexit. We have already seen hundreds of jobs lost in the Irish Mushroom industry, and this is a major cause for concern as full Brexit is a number of years away. The EU needs to recognise that Ireland is a special case in Brexit negotiations, and Fianna Fáil will continue to lobby for this at every level.”
“In addition to Brexit and CAP, we raised the issue of the current review underway regarding ANCs, as well as a clampdown on unfair trading practices in EU countries and strengthening the role of farmers in the food supply chain.”
“The EU has a role to play to ensure a level playing field in this area, and I hope that our meetings with various decision-makers, has impressed upon them the urgency of the need for legislative changes.”
“Fianna Fáil has prioritised this issue and we presented proposals to the Commission last year to tackle unfair trading practices, and I am confident that those working in the European institutions and the majority of national governments will support EU wide action on these important issues” concluded Cahill.