Concerns over ‘EU proposal to use CAP monies for Covid-19 funding’

Concern has been raised by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) about a proposal from the European Commission to “raid the rural development Pillar II budget” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for emergency Covid-19 funding.

The proposal would see monies diverted to Covid-19 funding for farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the farm organisation says.

Expressing concerns, ICSA president Edmond Phelan said:

“While the ICSA is adamant that emergency funding for farmers is urgent owing to the devastating impact on markets caused by Covid, it is unacceptable to pretend that this proposal is actually helping.

This proposal is effectively paying farmers to keep quiet with their own money.

“In addition, while it provides for a maximum lump sum payment of €5,000 for a farmer, it also provides for up to €50,000 for an SME involved in the marketing of agri-produce.

“So, to be clear, there will be less money in future rural development programmes for schemes like GLAS [Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environmental Scheme] and TAMS [Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme] if this proposal goes ahead.

“This is not helping farmers, it is simply taking from future income to prop them up today.”

Phelan stressed that the Taoiseach needs to prioritise working with his EU counterparts to create an extraordinary fund for extraordinary times.

We have the appalling scenario where a massive cut is being contemplated for the CAP which would be unacceptable even without the pandemic and the best the EU can come up with is to use this diminishing fund to deal with an unparalleled crisis.

“ICSA is calling on all parties to the government negotiations to set out their positions on how farmers should be assisted to cope with the disastrous impact of Covid-19,” Phelan concluded.