RSPB show true colours with calls to transfer CAP funds

Thursday, 14 November, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said that RSPB have shown their “true colours” following their calls to Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to transfer 15% from the Common Agriculture Policy’s (CAP) direct support budget (Pillar 1) to agri-environment schemes within the rural development budget (Pillar 2). 

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “RSPB likes to portray themselves as ‘working with farmers’ but in reality their motives appear to be far more self-serving. Farmers are the caretakers of the countryside and are already working incredibly hard with limited resources to protect and promote wildlife and habitats. If RSPB really want to show their solidarity with us they should be calling for increased direct support to maintain that active and sustained custodianship of the natural environment, rather than seeking to reduce support and putting more pressure on farming families, which could ultimately result in them leaving the countryside.

“I also think it is most galling that RSPB have grossly misrepresented the support of farmers for the transfer of funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. Only 70 farmers and agri-businesses supported their letter, whereas we have over 12,000 members who are clearly saying otherwise. 

“Agri-environment schemes are incredibly important and are a valued element of Pillar 2. However, the current Agriculture Minister has a track record of directing rural development funds into wider rural strategic projects that other Departments should be funding and it is naive to think that if money is transferred from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 it will end up in agri-environment schemes.”