Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has defended the consultation process behind the CAP strategic plan after being pushed on the matter by Matt Carthy TD, who claimed that farmers and other stakeholders were unable to engage with the process to the extent described by the Minister.
Carthy claimed that Minister McConalogue had not engaged sufficiently with TDs and senators in the process of drafting the CAP plan, despite being asked to bring to the plan before the Dáil "on several occasions".
“Well just to put on the record Cathaoirleach that the process around the drafting of the CAP strategic plan was disappointing,” said the Sinn Féin TD when questioning Minister McConalogue.
“Essentially, stakeholders were invited to make submissions, that was it.
“Public meetings were organised at one point online where there wasn’t the ability for people to engage directly and by the time the mart meetings that you described were still continuing, the strategic plan had all but been drafted,” Deputy Carthy claimed, adding that he saw the Commission's initial observation letter as a "stinging rebuke".
Minister McConalogue responded by saying that there had been stakeholder consultation throughout the process and that the mart meetings he attended allowed farmers a platform to make their views on the policy known.
I think we reached a balanced, strong CAP plan
He also commented that he would go before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture to discuss the plan in further detail, if asked.
“Never before had there been the consultation there had been this time around and you know there had been different views on it and I think we reached a balanced, strong CAP plan,” stated the Minister.
“I had great engagement from all parties – except yours,” he said.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD also quizzed the Minister on the timeframe around the establishment of the Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain, which is to enforce unfair trading practice (UTP) regulations.
The legal drafting of the bill to establish the office should be completed over the “next few weeks”, being brought before both the Dáil and the Seanad within the same timeframe, the Minister said.