‘Cutting CAP funding would devastate Irish agriculture’ – ICOS

Any cuts to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding are strongly opposed by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS).

Both the president of ICOS, Martin Keane, and its CEO, TJ Flanagan, met yesterday with the cabinet of Commissioner Gunther Oettinger – with responsibility for the EU Budget – in order to highlight the “vital need” for CAP funding to be maintained.

The ICOS representatives also highlighted the need for a dedicated Brexit support fund for businesses, within the upcoming EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2017.

Ahead of the publication of an EU budget proposal, expected in May of this year, the 27 EU member states are meeting in Brussels today to discuss the next long-term EU budget and institutional issues.

Recently, the European Commission published a paper – entitled ‘A new, modern MFF for an EU that delivers efficiently on its priorities post-2020’ – to guide this debate.

Also Read: Mooted 30% CAP budget cut ‘would shut down agriculture’

This paper outlined a range of proposals to fill the €15 billion hole left in the EU budget by Brexit, through increasing member states’ national contributions and enabling the EU to increase its own resources.

These proposals also incorporated a range of options in terms of spending, which included a cut of between 15% to 30% on CAP funding – which would represent a saving of around €60 billion to €120 billion over the seven-year period.

ICOS strongly opposes any reduction in CAP funding and calls for the Irish Government to do the same in the upcoming MFF discussions.

In order to ensure an effective and sustainable agricultural sector throughout the coming challenges posed by Brexit, it is necessary to maintain – if not increase – the level of funding, ICOS added.

Voicing his concerns, Keane said: “Direct payments within the CAP policy make up over 100% of the income of up to 60% of Irish farmers.

Cutting funding would therefore devastate Irish agriculture and have inestimable consequences for agricultural markets and rural economies, which are already under more pressure than ever before – as a result of potential UK market loss, market volatility and ever-increasing regulatory demands in areas such as climate emission restrictions.

As well as this, ICOS requested that a dedicated Brexit adjustment fund be established within the EU’s structural and Investment funds.

This will be greatly needed to help businesses through the period of adjustment following the UK’s departure from the EU, it added.

This dedicated fund should be targeted at businesses worst hit by Brexit, according to the society.

It would focus on:
  • Providing capital investment for product and market diversification;
  • Implementing supply chain adjustment resulting from Brexit market disturbance;
  • Providing training and upskilling within businesses on the new customs procedures, marketing for new markets, etc.