ICMSA president Pat McCormack: concerned rural Ireland may lose out in EU deal
The president of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, has expressed concern that in, what he called the “understandable enthusiasm” for concluding a deal around overall EU funding, that Irish farming and rural support will be sacrificed.
Mr McCormack, who farms outside Tipperary Town, said that while it was premature to call the matter absolutely, it did look suspiciously like Pillar II CAP funds were being targeted as an easy source of monies to be diverted to other funds.
This, he noted, was on top of the existing proposal to reduce Pillar I payments.
Mr McCormack said that farmers and rural communities were looking on anxiously as the feeling grew that the system of supports - direct and indirect - that maintained their economic and social viability seemed to have been put "on the table" due to the battle between the “Frugal Four” and other EU member states.
“Within the context of Ireland being a net contributor, the Taoiseach needs to be fully aware that there’s not much point in maintaining or increasing Covid-related EU support for certain sectors of the Irish economy, if that is at the expense of the already vulnerable and already exposed farming and food sectors and the rural communities in which those activities are based," said Mr McCormack.
He said that ICMSA accepted that there had to be a degree of "swings and roundabouts" in something as complex as these negotiations, but it was a question of where the money "swings" from and what roundabout brings what to who.
"We know that the question is one of overall national interest, but within that, the Government has to realise and act on the reality that it is the farming and food sectors that totally underpin the economy outside of the cities and bigger towns”, continued Mr McCormack.
He said that needed to be recognised, accepted and incorporated into our approach to the headings under which final funding will be allocated.
"Special provisions may have to be agreed ensuring that our CAP budget, both Pillar I and Pillar II, are at least maintained at existing levels,” said Mr McCormack.