The issue arose several times during the Department’s ongoing virtual ‘town hall’ public consultations on Ireland’s CAP strategic plan which are continuing to generate heavy criticism from farm leaders who say the webinar format is “a farce”.
ICMSA president Pat McCormack has called on Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue to “start dealing in specifics” and provide definite answers on the position on grant aid for dairy investments going forward.
“The current consultation swerves away from critical issues and hard facts on the requirements and even payment rates of the various schemes.
“The notion that these consultations could prove useful without even those most basic facts on which to make judgements is ridiculous. We have to start dealing in specifics and that means the Department has to start giving us the specifics. If we are going to have a real consultation on this CAP – and it is desperately needed – then let’s at least know the facts about what it is we’re discussing.
“I asked a specific question on whether grant aid will be available for dairy investments under the new CAP and the Department response was vague and non-committal. This vagueness and mixed messaging from the Department is just unacceptable and avoidable: we have farm families across the country making decisions on their futures and it is not asking a lot for a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer”.
The farm leader said that clearly climate change is a central issue and dairy farmers are now “non-stop” engaged in seeking out more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly equipment.
“Dairy farming is a key industry in our rural communities and the continuing non-committal position of the Government on this matter raises serious questions about the commitment to rural Ireland and the ‘Just Transition’ principle..
“The mixed messaging on dairy investments needs to end and the minister must confirm that dairy investments will qualify for grant aid in the new CAP; farm families are entitled to at least that level of certainty for their future,” he said.
In response to Mr McCormack’s question at the virtual meeting on Tuesday’s night, an official from the Department said: “On the dairy investments, just to clarify that all capital investment scheme measures will be available to all farmers from all sectors – all of the things we have listed, nutrient management and storage, farm safety all of those measures will be available to all farmers from all sectors.
“Additionally, the young farmer top-up will be available to farmers from all areas. The list of the individual investment items is still being looked at, it’s still being considered.
“We have general categories included, but at the moment we have more than 350 investment items included under the various TAMS measures and we will probably be looking at all sorts of additional investments, so have a huge body of work to do to look at all of those investment items.
“The comments made are noted, I know we are here to listen to suggestions so we will look at that. On new technology we’re interested in looking at new investment items.
“The focus is very much on environmental investments under the CAP strategic plan, so that will have to be borne in mind.”