‘Cutting funding only serves to limit the opportunities for farmers to act’ – ICOS

“Given the substantial climate and environmental targets set by the EU and Ireland specifically for the agricultural sector, under the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, a cut of 10% in the funding for the Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] budget is not only disappointing but nonsensical.”

This is according to the president of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), Jerry Long.

He called for greater clarity in the deployment of the Brexit Adjustment Fund and highlighted a disparity between funding provided for agriculture and the EU’s environmental commitments.

“The CAP is the main mechanism through which farmers are addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“It’s the chief driver of conversion to the sustainable practices and production being demanded of the primary production sector.

Cutting funding only serves to limit the opportunities for farmers to act. This disparity will need to be addressed through national co-financing and well targeted and effective CAP interventions that are made accessible to all farmers.

“In addition, the cut made to the rural development funding within the Covid-19 recovery fund down to €7.5 billion from €15 billion is very regrettable.

“This will certainly have a negative impact on the ability of our rural economy to survive the current economic downturn and additional efforts will need to be made by the Irish government to ensure our rural communities are not left behind.”

‘A very welcome outcome’

According to Long, the creation of a new Brexit Adjustment Reserve is, “however, a very welcome outcome”.

“The ICOS has been calling for such a support from the commission for several years and the establishment of the reserve is an important recognition of the economic disruption that is still to come as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

This is especially the case for the Irish agri-food industry which has deeply integrated supply chains with the UK and which are severely exposed to the fallout of Brexit, whether an agreement is reached or not.

“We will now seek greater clarity on how the funding can be accessed by businesses to make the necessary supply chain adjustments and technological and infrastructural investments to respond to our new relationship with the UK,” Long concluded.