The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform agreement received its final ratification in the European Parliament yesterday (Tuesday, November 23), almost five months after it was agreed by the European institutions.

Responding to this final approval, Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus (who was closely involved in formulating the deal as part of the parliament’s negotiating team) said that, although he “wasn’t fully satisfied” with the deal, the potential benefits for small and medium farmers “were too important not to support”.

After the deal was comfortably passed in the parliament yesterday, MacManus said: “By voting in favour this deal we lock-in significant gains.

“In my contribution during the debate, I recalled that we must not let ‘perfect be the enemy of good’.”

“The fight to deliver a completely just CAP for family farmers is by no means won, but we are much closer than when we began this process. Without doubt, this will be a fairer CAP than the last, when talking about farmers’ pockets,” MacManus argued.

The Midlands-Northwest MEP based that argument on the deal’s provisions for convergence of payments; capping of payment; and the front-loading of payments through the Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS).

“It is important to note that the new CAP can be further improved at national level, through the designing of an ambitious national strategic plan,” MacManus added.

He called on the government here to go beyond the minimum 3% allocation of the Pillar I budget for young farmers and increase it to 4%. As well as that, he called for a comprehensive response to address the lack of women in farming.

However, despite his broad welcoming of the deal and the vote to ratify it, MacManus said that the “most problematic element” of the reform is its reduced budget, compared to the previous CAP.

“No matter how good the plan is, we had one hand tied behind our back because of the refusal by the EU country leaders to fund is appropriately,” he remarked.

The Sinn Féin MEP went on to say that – despite the disappointment of funding – the new CAP “has not neglected the climate crisis we face, and recognises that farmers will be our biggest allies in delivering a sustainable transition”.