Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Needs of NI agriculture reinforced to EU agri commissioner: Dodds

SPEAKING after meeting with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos during his visit to Northern Ireland this week, DUP MEP Diane Dodds has expressed her frustration at the lack commitment to the real needs of the agriculture community in Northern Ireland.

She said that while the visit may have been a good PR exercise for the Commissioner, the reality is he plans to take money away from local farmers.

Mrs Dodds added: “I welcome the Commissioner’s visit to the British Isles this week and for taking time out to visit Northern Ireland following his visit to Scotland. Although the Commissioner is well aware of the needs of the industry through our work as MEPs on the agriculture committee, this visit allows the industry to reinforce those messages. Hopefully the Commissioner will take heed and negotiate a policy which will deliver and not as currently stands restrict agricultural production.

“Today’s meeting once again highlighted the need for the Commission to move back from its apparent disregard to sustain and grow food production in the EU. From the very outset the Commissioner has focused his attention on “greening” the Common Agriculture Policy and seeing the need to help sustain the industry.

“Today I again made it clear to the Commissioner the need to support food production, reduce rather than increase red tape and most of all allow farmers to farm. The other area which needs addressed throughout Europe is the supply chain and the need for real fairness. Let there be no doubt about it; current proposals will mean the Commissioner is taking money away from local farmers. If direct support is to be reduced the market, not necessarily the consumer, must pay for the goods being produced but also to continually support EU producers. It is not good enough for supermarkets or processors to pay lip service to local producers and then pay products from outside the EU. Many products from outside the EU and indeed outside the UK are produced cheaper because of the lower production, welfare and environmental standards. If the Commission want to rule every aspect of agriculture and interfere they must be willing to support the sector in doing so. I highlighted the clear need for flexibility within the system to allow Member States to adapt the policy to suit their agriculture systems. Given that the Commissioner is travelling across the British Isles I do hope on a practical level he will also see the need for regional flexibility and that one system definitely does not suit all,” added Mrs Dodds.

“Another big question is the CAP budget. If the budget is reduced then I believe the policy needs to be reviewed even at this late stage. The current proposal will require farmers to do more but will also shift funds from productive farmers to less productive farmers, at a proposed freeze in current spending. If the budget is reduced it is quite simple that farmers will not be able to do more for less money, something will have to give. The UK must also receive a fairer allocation of the Pillar 2 budget on an objective basis rather than on past performance given the woeful allocation we currently have.

“We all know that the economy is suffering and spending needs to be reduced but there are areas of waste within the EU which could be cut without affecting a budget which provides food, essential public goods and massive employment through primary and secondary production. Dacian Ciolos must prove his worth while negotiating the budget because many, including the Conservative led coalition government and the ECR group in the European Parliament, will see the CAP as the biggest single expenditure and it will be the target for cuts.”
Original Article Here

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