Last week under the Irish Presidency of the EU, we achieved political agreement in the CAP Reform negotiations with the European Parliament and the Commission in Brussels. The agreement represents a package of measures that will set the framework for the development of the EU agri-food sector up to 2020. I believe this is a well balanced package, that will maintain sustainable and competitive farming in the EU, and is a very good outcome for Irish farmers. Direct payments are maintained providing stability to farmers against market uncertainties and 30% of a farmer’s payment is made conditional on meeting greening criteria thus contributing to environmental sustainability. More targeted support is provided for under Rural Development and market management mechanisms are also retained to support the market, particularly in time of crisis.
Overall I am satisfied that the reformed policy will secure strong and sustainable growth in the agriculture and food sectors into the future delivering sustainable intensification of production, environmental stewardship and the maintenance of a vibrant rural economy.