Drought financial support: Commission urged to have an ‘open mind’

The European Commission has been called upon to have an “open mind” in terms of making financial support available to drought-affected countries.

Making reference to the difficulties faced in Ireland in recent weeks, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine made the call as he attended the Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels today (Monday, July 16).

Grass growth levels have been significantly impacted by the drought conditions being experienced at the moment. Farmers in parts of the country have been forced to graze fields initially designated for second-cut silage, as well as feeding first-cut silage in some cases to stretch any available supplies of grass.

CAP budget support

Meanwhile, it has also emerged at today’s meeting in Brussels that the German Ministry for Agriculture has agreed to support the maintenance of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Creed said: “I warmly welcome this significant intervention by the German Agriculture Ministry in the debate surrounding the proposed budget for the CAP post-2020.

I have been working with ministerial colleagues for months now across the EU in an attempt to build consensus amongst member states for the importance of securing the CAP budget.

“Having met with the German State Secretary for Food and Agriculture – Dr. Hermann Aeikens – this morning, I’m extremely pleased to note that the position of the German ministry is now that they refuse the proposal to cut the CAP budget.”

CAP proposals

Furthermore, the CAP legislative proposals were also discussed in more detail during the Council of Agriculture Ministers.

Addressing council, the minister said: “I welcome the fact that an effort has been made to introduce greater subsidiarity in the proposals.

Striking the right balance is difficult, especially for key policy that is common across the European Union – and also because of the complex nature of the CAP.

“In the main, Ireland considers that the commission has struck a reasonable balance.”

However, the minister did express some concern when it came to areas where member states are given some latitude – but where discretion is circumscribed by text.

“I have previously referred to the definition of the ‘genuine farmer’. I fear that the definition proposed – and the prospect of income tests or an assessment of labour inputs on farm – will lead to significant operational difficulties and further complication, rather than simplification,” he said.