Written Answers. - Common Agricultural Policy.

Joan Burton

Question:

39 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when he envisages coming to agreement with the beef sector on the implementation of the CAP reform measures agreed; the provisions of the deal in relation to beef; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19011/03]

Last week's agreement on the mid-term review was a very satisfactory outcome from Irelands point of view in so far as it offers a wide variety of options in the beef sector in regard to decoupling of payments which represented a very substantial change in the original Commission proposals. In particular, the following options are now available: all schemes may be decoupled; or the suckler cow premium may be coupled up to 100% and up to 40% of the slaughter premium may remain coupled; or the slaughter premium may be coupled up to 100% or alternatively up to 75% of the special beef premium may be retained as a coupled payment; and in addition, up to 10% of direct payments may be used to encourage specific types of farming which are important for the protection or enhancement of the environment and of improving the quality and marketing of agricultural products.

I will shortly commence a process of consultations with the social partners, and any other interested group or individuals, before deciding on which option to implement.