CAP negotiations: ‘The relentless erosion of payments must end’

The “relentless” downward pressure on direct payments to farmers “disadvantages Ireland disproportionately” according to Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).

The ICMSA has called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to “consider the maintenance of at least the present level of funding of the Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] to be non-negotiable for Ireland”, following European Council talks on the matter in Brussels this weekend.

‘The erosion and devaluation of payments’

McCormack is urging Martin to ensure that the level of CAP payments is maintained.

“Irish farmers and our wider rural economy depend massively on the direct payments that go through the farmer recipients and the wider rural community,” he said.

The relentless erosion and devaluation of payments must end.

McCormack said that the Taoiseach must “recognise that the relentless downward pressure on direct payments to farmers has disadvantaged Ireland disproportionately” and that this has led Ireland to have “some of the most economically-exposed rural communities”.

The ICMSA added that the effect of Covid-19 must be considered.

“Aside from the economic necessity of maintaining direct payments through an adequately-funded CAP, Covid-19 is proving that the concept of food security is not an abstract consideration, but one that is very real,” McCormack continued.

“The EU must state that the funding of CAP will not be reduced and the Taoiseach must insist that Ireland cannot accept any funding arrangement that does not recognise those realities.

“The level of those payments has to be maintained at present levels, even if that means individual member states have to contribute more.”

Proposed €5 billion cut to CAP

Concerns over CAP have also been raised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA). AgriLand reported on Saturday, July 18, that CAP may face a €5 billion cut, according to Tim Cullinan, president of the IFA.

Cullinan said the latest papers from the meeting in Brussels show that rather than increasing the overall allocation, it may be reduced by some €5 billion.

Cullinan said: “In the draft before the talks began, €15 billion was allocated to the rural development (Pillar 2) element of the CAP from the €750 billion recovery fund. We understand this has now been reduced to €10 billion.

“This cut is unacceptable and the Taoiseach must make it clear that it is a total non-runner.”