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Minister Smith has talks with the EU Agriculture Commissioner on the future of the CAP

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD met EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos in Dublin today.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future direction of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 in advance of the publication of a communication from the Commission on the matter next month.

Minister Smith said that the agri-food sector is vital to our national economy and our rural society.  It will play a huge part in our national economic recovery, and the CAP will be a key instrument underpinning this ambition.  The negotiations on the future CAP are therefore of enormous importance for this country.  In that respect he wanted to see a strong and properly resourced CAP after 2013, emphasising that this was a whole of Government position.  "We believe that the CAP can continue to play a vital role in ensuring a supply of high quality, safe food for consumers, and in supporting sustainable production systems and rural communities."

Minister Smith said a key role of pillar 1 payments in the future should be the support of farm income - with direct payments stabilising incomes at farm level and market management measures establishing a safety net in the market.  "This support and stabilisation will, in turn, underpin farming activity and therefore security of food supply.  It will also support the viability of family farms, which are the essential platform for the production of public goods in most European countries."

He also emphasised the need to maintain an appropriate balance between income support and payment for public goods in the two pillars.  The CAP should not be exclusively about one or the other, he said.

The Minister said that continuing these payments into the future is essential for Irish agriculture. "The Irish government will be resolutely pursuing this objective in the upcoming negotiations, in which it is clear there will be discussion of the distribution of funds between Member States."

Minister Smith called on the Commissioner to allow Member States flexibility regarding the distribution of funds within Member States, as is currently the case.  He said the agro-ecological and social conditions of farming vary hugely within the Union, as does the political debate about the justification for farm payments and this must be taken into account in the negotiations.

The Commissioner also had a meeting with An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD and addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture in Dail Eireann.

Later today, he will travel to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food campus in Backweston, Co. Kildare for a meeting with stakeholders from the Irish agri-food industry and will visit a typical farm in north Kildare.

Photo for PR 172/10 - 01.09.10

An Taoiseach Brian Cowen T.D. meeting Dacian Ciolos, EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development in Government Buildings with Pat Carey T.D. Minister for Community Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs and Brendan Smith T.D. Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Food

Photo for Press Release 172/10 - 01.10.10

Minister Pat Carey, T.D. Minister for Community Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs and Brendan Smith T.D. Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Food greeting Dician Ciolos, EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, on his arrival at Government Buildings.

Date Released: 01 October 2010