Press Release

Assembly Committee attends Oireachtas meeting on CAP Reform

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Reference: AGR 10/11/12

Reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continued to be top of the agenda for the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development when Members attended a meeting on the issue in Dublin last week.

Members of the Committee heard from Dacien Ciolos, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture on the issue of CAP Reform.  

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said: “We welcomed the opportunity to attend the presentation made by Mr Ciolos and used the visit to continue discussions on CAP reform with the Oireachtas Committee. CAP reform is likely to be finalised during Ireland’s forthcoming presidency of the EU, and therefore it can only be beneficial to the agriculture industry in Northern Ireland that we share common concerns regarding key policy areas with our counterparts in Dublin.”

The Committee Deputy Chairperson, Dolores Kelly MLA added: “While sharing common concerns with the Republic of Ireland is positive, one of the key issues within CAP Reform is the practice of letting agricultural land for farming – known as conacre letting[1].  This is unique to Northern Ireland and affects approximately a third of agricultural land here.  Our Committee will strive to have this matter recognised and addressed within the new CAP arrangements, along with the reassurance that financial support will be available to encourage the growth of our agri-sectors.” 

Notes to Editors:

1. Conacre Letting

Approximately one third of agricultural land within Northern Ireland is held under conacre, which is where a landlord lets land to tenants for agriculture and farming purposes.

Under the proposed definition of an ‘active’ farmer in the new CAP Reform policies, many landlords including private individuals, churches and charities may not qualify for direct payments.  This could potentially impact on the good management of farmland and could cause rates for tenant farmers to increase as landlords seek to meet the shortfall from having no access to direct payments.

Committee Membership:

Mr Paul Frew – Chairperson
Mrs Dolores Kelly – Deputy Chairperson
Ms Michaela Boyle
Mr Thomas Buchanan
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Willie Clarke
Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson
Mr William Irwin
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Oliver McMullan
Mr Robin Swann

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