‘Common sense needed’ on CAP funding – Irish MEP

An Irish MEP has called for “common sense” to prevail when it comes to the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), arguing against a cut to farmer payments.

Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher was speaking following a debate in the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on the topic of the new ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy.

The strategy forms part of the EU’s €1 trillion Green Deal, which was announced last month.

Farmers are the custodians of the land. It is, and always has been, in their interests to protect and enhance the land they own.

Kelleher argued that farmers “are not the enemy” when it comes to climate change, and could be “part of the solution” if the correct supports are in place.

“No farmer I know wants to see the land go to rack and ruin,” the MEP highlighted.

Kelleher, a member of the parliament’s environment committee, urged against a cut in funding, pointing out the proportion of farm incomes made up by CAP monies.

Farmers can and want to be part of the solution, but common sense is needed. CAP funding cannot be cut for farmers. It already makes up 56% of family farm income according to a Teagasc 2017 report.

“If, as we all expect, 40% of CAP funding is diverted to climate action, additional funding will be required to ensure that there are no cuts to farm incomes. This 40% should be used to help farmers transition to environmentally sustainable methods to lessen their carbon footprints,” he argued.

Mercosur

Kelleher also took the opportunity to criticise the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement, saying: “Farmers find it hard to fathom why the EU, and the current Irish government, are pushing ahead with the Mercosur trade deal with South America.

“It makes no financial, environmental or quality sense to bulldoze the Amazon…to make way for 90,000t of low quality beef to be produced and then shipped to Europe when we have more than enough quality beef being produced in Europe,” he added.

Potential CAP cut

Meanwhile, EU documents show the possible scale of future CAP cuts.

The next policy could be set for a savage cut if proposals from the President of the European Council Charles Michel are enacted.

According to the documents, under the current 2014-2020 CAP budget – adjusted for the EU-27 (minus the UK) – €382.5 billion was allocated over the lifetime of the programme. The new proposal would represent a drop (for CAP) of over €53.2 billion or 14%.

The same document indicates that the 2014-2020 CAP budget – adjusted for the EU-28 (including the UK) – was €410.3 billion. Using this as the existing budgetary figure, the new proposal would see a drop of over €81 billion or 19%.

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