‘Budget and generational renewal will be central to White Paper on CAP’ – Kelly

The EU’s much anticipated White Paper that will guide Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform post-2020 will concentrate heavily on desire to retain the current budget and on generational renewal, Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly has forecast.

This morning, Phil Hogan – the EU Commissioner for Agriculture – will publish ‘The Future of Food and Farming‘ paper which will outline principles that will guide decisions on changes set to be made to CAP over the coming years.

According to the EU Commission last year, almost 40% of the EU’s budget was spent on agriculture and rural development – with an annual CAP buget of €58 billion.

Millions of farmers across Europe avail of the vital farming supports every year; with many now fearing the CAP budget will be reduced post-Brexit.

Speaking to AgriLand ahead of the publication, Irish MEP Sean Kelly said today’s report will be clear enough – concentrating mainly on three or four key areas.

“One will be the desire to keep the budget as large as possible, which won’t be easy because of Brexit and other competing areas.

Two will be generational renewal, which is a big issue now and it’s becoming bigger because so many farmers are in the upper age bracket; and there are not enough people coming into it, so supports are vital.

“Three will be a big emphasis on the environment. In some respects, CAP must continue to justify its work and get the support across all parties; that is necessary to ensure CAP has the majority here in parliament, and in council.”

Brexit

He anticipates that there will be a reference to funding, but he said budgetary clarity cannot be guaranteed.

“Where Ireland is concerned, Brexit will have to come into the reckoning. But again, there isn’t enough certainty about it yet; there is no definition of when it will actually kick in.

“For that reason, it will be aspirational rather than factual.”

Kelly is of the opinion that it will be a positive report for the future of farming.

Agriculture is such a vital industry; especially in rural areas. Without a vibrant agricultural industry, you are not going to have rural areas. One of our primary aims of the European Union is to treat all areas and regions equally and to promote regional growth.

“The best way to do that is through a strong agricultural sector which provides direct, and indirect, jobs off-farm through various services,” he concluded.

‘The Future of Food and Farming’ is expected to be published over the next hour. Stay tuned to AgriLand for further updates…