EU budget summit to have ‘massive implications’ – ICMSA

Ahead of a crunch meeting in Brussels today, Thursday, February 20, on the EU’s budget – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) is warning that the proposed cut to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would be “catastrophic”.

Pat McCormack, the association’s president, said that today’s European Council summit “has the most significant implications for the whole rural economy over the next seven years”.

“The ICMSA is operating on the basis that if the proposals were to be accepted, then Irish farmers’ direct payments would fall from €1.2 billion per annum to €1.08 billion,” McCormack stated.

Rural development payments would fall from €330 million per annum to €225 million for the duration of the term covered by this CAP.

“The falls involved would be catastrophic for farm families, and it is these payments going into the wider rural economy that is the lifeblood of many rural commercial business and service providers,” the ICMSA president warned.

He highlighted: “Always remember that the multiplier effect of the farmer’s spend is at least 1.8. What that means is the effect of the farmer’s spend in every country is nearly doubled as it goes into their local economies.

“The converse of that is equally true: If the farmers don’t have that money to spend, then the negative effect is very disproportionate and everybody has to understand that getting a fair and reasonable CAP is absolutely necessary for counties all over Ireland where farming and food production is the biggest industry,” McCormack stressed.

McCormack will be one of two Irish farm organisation leaders traveling to Brussels for today’s summit, the other being Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Leaders of the EU’s 27 member states will gather for an “extraordinary European Council meeting” to discuss – and potentially decide – on the bloc’s MFF for the next seven years.