29th April 2003
Urgent need to debate CAP Reform
The Sinn Fein spokespersons on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD and Gerry McHugh MLA have called for an urgent debate on the current proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. Ferris, McHugh and Assembly candidate Pat O'Rawe are to discuss the Fischler proposals with EU officials in Brussels next week.
In a joint statement, Deputy Ferris and Mr. McHugh said: ``It is clear that the negotiations on the Fischler reforms have now reached a crucial stage and yet we have still to see any definitive proposals emanating from the Departments of Agriculture here, despite the vigorous level of debate that is taking place among the grassroots of the farming organisations and amongst groups involved in rural community development.
``At our recent Ard Fhéis, Sinn Fein passed a series of comprehensive motions which referred to the current crisis in agriculture and in rural communities throughout the island. As part of this we pointed to the deficiencies of the current CAP, and for the need to make changes that will benefit small to medium farmers, and which will ensure the survival and prosperity of rural communities.
``Much concern has been expressed in particular with regard to the proposal to de-couple payments made to farmers. While Sinn Fein would share some of that concern, particularly as it will effect young farmers entering after 2000, we would also believe that there are opportunities there to ensure the survival and future prosperity of small to medium farmers who are currently experiencing an income and debt crisis.
``What is required more than anything else is that those who claim to represent Irish farmers make an honest assessment of the proposals and present alternatives where they believe them to be deficient. Otherwise, we will end up in the worst of all worlds; allowing possibly favourable aspects to be lost, while those that will be harmful will be carried.
``We will be presenting our views on de-coupling, modulation, rural development, and on the other aspects of the reform proposals to the Agriculture Commission, and will shortly be publishing a comprehensive republican analysis of the proposals that will outline Sinn Fein's strategy for the future of Irish agriculture, and in particular for the need to plan for the future development of farming and rural development on an all Ireland basis''.
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