During his visit, the Commissioner had the opportunity to meet representatives of the Ulster Farmers' Union over an informal lunch hosted by local farmers Mr and Mrs Walter Hoy at their family farm, Glenview, near Templepatrick. The UFU delegation, led by President Harry Sinclair, engaged in discussion with the Commissioner on a range of issues which will be covered by the upcoming reform including the Single Farm Payment and wider aspects of rural development.
The Commissioner also had the opportunity to address the next generation of farmers when he visited CAFRE's (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) Greenmount campus where he met college Principal Mr John Fay, Mrs Diane Dodds MEP, industry representatives and approximately 40 students. During his speech at the college, the Commissioner expressed his condolences at the deaths of Mr Noel Spence and his two sons, Graham and Nevin, in the recent tragic farm accident.
The message from the UFU was that sufficient flexibility must be built into the next CAP agreement to meet the real needs of local farmers. The Commissioner outlined the current stage of the CAP negotiations in Brussels and expressed his expectation of reaching an agreement during the Irish Presidency of the European Union which runs from January until June next year.
"We need to build a new consensus around the CAP, including with farmers, consumers and citizens, to take forward both the policy and the budget which needs to accompany it" said Commissioner Ciolos.
The Commissioner underlined that the reform is a package and that every piece of the puzzle counts.