[Sinn Fein]

27th January 2003

Ferris accuses Walsh of inconsistency on CAP reform

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, has accused Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh of being dangerously inconsistent on the current proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. Deputy Ferris claimed, for example, that Walsh had given two completely different interpretations of the FAPRI report on the effects of decoupling. Deputy Ferris said that this was in line with the Minister's lack of engagement with the current reform process and that the Irish Government was being negligent in failing to put forward concrete proposals in opposition to those they felt would be harmful to Irish farmers.

Deputy Ferris said:

``There is no doubt that aspects of the Fischler proposals do amount to a threat to Irish farming. However, the CAP does need to be changed and this Government needs to be making its own proposals as to how this should take place. It is not good enough simply to demand that there be no reform of a system that has clearly failed tens of thousands of Irish farmers over the past 30 years.

``Farmers will be badly served by a tactic of relying on the French veto which will not safeguard specific Irish interests. Where the proposals contain measures that are agreed to be harmful then they must be opposed. However, there must also be a willingness to examine where some of the proposals could be beneficial and to suggest changes where necessary. Farming and rural Ireland in general are in crisis and burying your head in the sand is not going to solve those problems. What is needed is a radical overhaul of the entire thrust of agriculture and rural development policy at EU and national level.''

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