Why should farmers fund their own aid package?
Last week’s news of an ‘Aids to Private Storage’ support package for the dairy sector is a welcome development. But what does give deep cause for concern is Agriculture Commissioner Cioloş’ claim that the decisions taken in Brussels constitute evidence of the new CAP working effectively on behalf of Europe’s farmers.
What absolute nonsense! In the first instance, the EU’s response to Russia’s food import ban should have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the CAP. Our friends in Moscow were responding to a political decision taken at the very heart of Europe. And, given these developments, the EU had no option but to bolster its farming and food sectors. And, yes, Aids to Private Storage do represent the most efficient way for Brussels to provide immediate support to those processers and farmers coming under pressure.
But the CAP should never have been used as the funding vehicle for these measures. I could understand this being the case in the event of a pandemic disease outbreak or some form of weather related catastrophe. But to use the CAP as a political football is wrong.
I am also mindful of the fact that CAP budgets have been significantly reduced over the past two years – Europe’s response to the recent economic meltdown – and that there is no provision to increase agri/food spending levels over the lifetime of the new CAP measures.
So, in essence, what Commissioner Cioloş has done is use farmers’ money to solve a problem which producers did not create in the first place. This is wrong in principle. And under these circumstances the Commissioner should immediately seek to have the measures put in place which allow the EU’s more than considerable Emergency Aid Budget provide the funding for whatever agri/food support measures are required to deal with the Russian debacle.