CAP: ‘We need to face reality – we can’t do more with less’

One of the country’s main farm lobby groups has warned that farmers “can’t do more with less”, referring to a reduction in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget.

Pat McCormack, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), said that the reality is that current proposals for CAP reform are for a cut to the budget, something he said needs to be faced and rejected.

“The reality is – and we need to face the reality – that the current proposal which needs to be rejected is for a reduction in the CAP budget. The budget is also falling in real terms and we simply cannot do more with less.”

McCormack was speaking following the first official meeting of the CAP consultative committee today, Wednesday, May 29, which was chaired by Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

After that meeting, McCormack commented that generating sustainable incomes for farmers “must be central” to the CAP post-2020, and that the focus should shift to supporting farmers.

“I am very concerned with the growing trend that the CAP can solve all problems, and with the growing list of demands from Government and non-Government bodies in relation to funds,” the ICMSA president said.

“Quite clearly, the first task of Government must be to ensure that the proposed budget cuts are rejected by member states and that the budget is at least maintained at current levels,” urged McCormack.

He also claimed that the convergence model has “undermined many farm families dependent on farming for their income”. He called for “clear analysis” of convergence to ensure that “anomalies are properly addressed”.

“A clear definition of a genuine farmer is also required and, in this regard, ICMSA believes a genuine farmer must be making an economic contribution to their local economy, while the issue of crisis management needs to be adequately addressed in the reform,” McCormack argued.

He concluded by warning the Government not to “spread the CAP too thinly or it will fail on all fronts”.