Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (26)

Thomas Pringle


26. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which he will view the new Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, taking into account Ireland's climate change obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5626/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The new legislative proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy 2021 - 2027 were launched on Friday 1 June 2018 by Commissioner Hogan. The proposals outline a greater environmental ambition post 2020 and recognise the role the agriculture sector has to play in helping Member States achieve their environmental and climate change targets.

The new CAP reform proposals require Member States to set out their approach on environmental issues in the new CAP Strategic Plans.

There are a number of new approaches to addressing environmental issues through the CAP including:-

- Three of the nine key objectives set for the CAP post 2020 concern the environment.

- An ex ante assessment for the plan must incorporate a strategic environmental assessment.

- The proposals include greater environmental conditionality on EU payments with links to requirements such as the Water Framework Directive and proposals for mandatory nutrition management plans.

- 40% of the overall CAP budget must contribute to climate mainstreaming.

- Member States must make schemes available as part of the direct payments that provide additional supports for eco schemes which go beyond the increased statutory management requirements and good agricultural and environmental conditions.

- Nationally 30% of the Rural Development Programme expenditure, excluding payments for areas of natural constraints, must be focused on biodiversity/environment/climate related measures.

- Noncompliance with statutory management requirements and standards for good agricultural and environmental conditions of land in the areas of climate and environmental, public health, animal health, plant health and animal welfare will require an administrative penalty.

There are ten Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC’s) covering a range of issues including permanent grassland, protection of wetland and peatland, and nutrient management plans. There are sixteen proposed Statutory Management Requirements. These concern compliance with a number of Directives including the Water Framework Directive, the Nitrates Directive and the Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.

I firmly support the principle that there must be a high level of environmental ambition in the CAP post 2020. I believe that protecting the environment and the sustainable development of agriculture go hand in hand. However it is essential that the new environmental conditionality is implemented effectively, with common standards that are relevant and effective.

The new CAP proposals will be a key support in enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, achieving more sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring a more balanced development of rural areas. In addition, I believe that farmers play a vital role in the provision of public goods and need to be adequately recognised and recompensed for this role. It is important that the overall level of the budget acknowledges the public goods being delivered from farmers. The negotiations for the CAP post 2020 are still ongoing and I will continue to seek to secure the best possible outcome for the Irish agri-food sector.