[Sinn Fein]

12th July 2002

MacManus States Sinn Fein Concerns On CAP Proposals

Sinn Fein spokesperson on European Union Affairs Councillor Sean MacManus has expressed grave reservations about this week's announcement from Brussels on proposed CAP reform.

Councillor MacManus said; `Irish farmers, particularly those in this region, have good reason to be concerned by many of the proposals being mooted by Commissioner Fischler. The IFA and ICMSA have both rejected the proposed reforms because they believe that farmers would be worse off and that these new measures could put many out of business altogether.

`We must view these proposals in context. Over the past few decades tens of thousands of Irish farming families have been forced off the land. In the present depressed market, where prices have collapsed across so many sectors, the proposed cuts in payments couldn't be more potentially destructive. The reality is, - even without the proposed reforms - the future of Irish farming has never been bleaker.

`While I am still reviewing the recommendations in detail, I have a number of concerns about these proposals. The production payment decoupling proposals doesn't address the problem that farmers in many sectors have been poorly paid for quality produce. The proposed further restriction on beef sector exports is another major concern.

`The reality of the proposed 3% diversion of prior farm subsidy monies to rural regeneration is that this provision is discretionary. There is no guarantee that this would happen. Not alone am I concerned about the CAP reform proposals, I have no confidence in the negotiating abilities of Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh, who is set to begin negotiations on Monday. Over the lifetime of the last Dáil, he failed utterly to strongly represent agricultural interests. Further his government failed to stand up to Europe over Nice so this does not bode well for their commitment to stand up to Europe on CAP reform.

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