Department’s CAP analysis omits ‘elephant in the room’ – IFA

Analysis on the impact of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) carried out by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine omits the “elephant in the room” of the CAP budget, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Joe Healy, the association’s president, said that the proposals for the next cycle of the CAP would entail a cut in the policy’s budget of €97 million per annum – amounting to an overall cut of €678 million over the seven years of the policy, without taking into account the impact of inflation.

Healy again called on the Government to reject a cut to the CAP budget, and to “insist” on instead increasing the budget in line with inflation.

The IFA president is also calling on farmers to be adequately compensated for any “extra asks” on them that arise from the CAP reforms.

“The department’s analysis of the CAP proposals focuses on the elements of the proposals which will effectively redistribute money between farmers. The elephant in the room is the size of the overall budget,” he added.

“We need to keep the focus on this and not get distracted by a debate on how the money will be distributed. One thing is certain – the smaller the overall budget, the more farmers will lose out,” Healy continued.

He urged the Government to “direct its energies” towards a larger CAP budget.

In 1985, the CAP made up over 55% of the overall EU budget. Under the latest proposals it will be less than 30%. The EU are effectively raiding the CAP budget for other initiatives. This has to stop. Farmers cannot be expected to do more and more for less and less.

Healy highlighted that the European Council is due to discuss this issue when it meets in mid-October, and that “we see other countries setting out their red lines in recent days”.

“The Taoiseach needs to tell the European Council that Ireland won’t be signing up to the new budget unless there is an increase in CAP funding,” the IFA president concluded.