Government urged to follow French in ‘outright rejection’ of CAP cuts

“Not for the first time” farmers throughout the EU will look on the French Government as their defenders and the ultimate supporters of the EU’s indigenous farming sector.

This was what the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, had to say following today’s rejection of the proposed cuts in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by the French Minister for Agriculture and Food, Stephane Travert.

McCormack said that the statement on the proposed cuts attributed to Travert “represented the kind of solid, principled and far-sighted rebuttal of the commission’s proposal that Irish farmers wished to hear”.

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He added that the Irish Government has to fall in behind the French position and signal to the commission that the proposals represent an unacceptable and devastating blow to what was “the oldest and most integrated policy of European construction” – to use Travert’s phrase.

McCormack said the French position effectively means that the proposed cuts are “all to play for” as a budgetary option.

Ireland must now resume its efforts to convince the commission and others to maintain the CAP budget through increased member contributions, if that is what is required.

The ICMSA president also dismissed the idea that the cuts were manageable and would amount to 5%.

He said: “Respected analysts have estimated that the proposed cuts would translate to a cut in direct payments of up to 15% – and their methodology is a great deal more convincing than airy pronouncements of the cuts only being in the order of 5%.

“France has opened the door and – given the fundamental role direct payments play in our rural economy – it is up to our Government to step through that door in support of France and, ultimately, ourselves,” he concluded.