– TDs from all sides of the House need to scrutinise any deal’

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has accused the Minister for Agriculture of negotiating with the European Commission on CAP reform without proper Dáil oversight or input from Irish farming organisations.

Holly said:

“We have a right to know that our food is produced in a fair and ethical way. At present, it is not – it is at the expense of our farmers, migrant and Irish workers, consumers and the environment.

“This is a direct result of the policies implemented by CAP and the Department of Agriculture. The power wielded by the Department is considerable and the Minister needs to be held accountable by politicians and the public.

“The forthcoming CAP will shape not only framing practices, but also the Irish landscape for the next decade. It is unbelievable that there has essentially been no Dáil time devoted to discussing the Government’s approach to the negotiations. The Minister and his officials are representing farmers and this State with no oversight or scrutiny from this House.

“I have had to rely on Parliamentary Questions to get clarification on the Minister’s position at the trialogue negotiations on CAP on issues, such as convergence. The Commission seems to be pushing 75% convergence, whereas the European Parliament proposed 100% convergence.

“The Minister informed me that his Department is analysing the effects of all proposed changes and is engaging with his European colleagues and farmer organisations to help inform the decision-making process. To me, this implies he does not have a position and there is no real representation of Irish farmers in these crucial negotiations.

“However, representatives from farming organisations have informed me the Minister and his Department are pushing for minimum convergence, and for member states to have a greater function in setting the levels.

“It is unacceptable that the Government’s approach to CAP negotiations will not be voted on in the Dáil. This means that TDs will not be afforded proper scrutiny of measures that will have a lasting impact on the livelihoods of Irish farmers.

“I am calling on the Minister to ensure that a Dáil session is added to the calendar as soon as possible so he can present his position on CAP negotiations and allow TDs from all sides of the House to ask questions.”

April 23, 2021

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