The Ulster Farmers’ Union has responded to a House of Lords report on CAP reform with a warning that without support farmers would struggle to remain in business, particularly in the face of current low prices for all the major commodities.
The report outlined how the CAP should be reformed to reduce farmers’ reliance on direct payments. It urges farmers to rise to this challenge, but UFU president, Barclay Bell, has dismissed this as unrealistic.
“It’s easy to say that reliance on subsidy payments should be reduced, but during one of the toughest periods in memory for agricultural a lot of farmers are struggling to remain in business. To remove support would spell tragedy for some producers,” he said.
Mr Bell said direct payments allowed farmers to cope with periods of extreme volatility, by allowing production to be maintained while the market readjusts. The past two years have been marked by price volatility, but despite that changes to farm policy have made the CAP more market focussed.
“All farmers and growers want to be in a position where the market delivers a sustainable return and no support from Government’s would be needed but this simply does not happen. While the UFU is supportive of the principle of moving towards a more market-led approach, with reduced bureaucracy across the EU, any move to reduce direct CAP support now would have a devastating impact on farm incomes,” said Mr Bell.