JUNE: With a warm sun on their backs farmers were able to get out into their fields  with a degree of pleasure they would have thought almost unimaginable just a few short weeks earlier. Not surprisingly, first cut silage yields were well down. However, tillage farmers were reporting most cereal crops had come through the cold wet spring in good condition.

Meanwhile, the pressure on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to come up with a CAP deal before the end of the month was growing. But on 26 June the news came through that the Council of Agriculture Ministers, the European Commission and the European Parliament had reached a meeting of minds on the issue.

The real strength of the agreement was immediately recognised in its adherence to a number of  overarching issues , such as area payments, greening and support for young farmers while, at the same time, providing for quite a lot of flexibility at regional level. In essence, the new agreement recognised that famers in Ireland face different challenges to those faced by their counterparts in Romania r the South of Spain.

In many ways the signing of the CAP Reform deal marked the high water mark of Ireland’s EU Presidency. It also marked out Coveney as a politician with tremendous diplomatic skills combined with an ability to get the job done.

But the deal brokered in Brussels also meant that Ireland’s Agriculture Minister would have to re-visit this agenda again and again and again, once the challenge of implementing the final package of support measures for Ireland took centre stage. And we are still awaiting news on that front!