Healy says Government must capitalise on EU CAP support

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president, Joe Healy, is calling on the Government to take advantage of the European Parliament’s decision to back an increase in funding for the Common Agricultural Policy.

According to Healy, the increase in the policy’s budget will maintain the level of real-value payments to farmers, thereby warding off inflation.

“It is significant that the Budget Committee has supported a CAP Budget that maintains existing funding, but also provides for inflation,” he said.

This is a clear signal to the Irish Government and the EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to leverage this outcome across Member states, and push for higher contributions to make this a reality.

The original budget proposal, in May, put forward higher contributions from the individual member states, but also included a 5% cut to the CAP budget, which would, after inflation, mean a 15% shortfall in funding.

Speaking on that proposed cut, Healy claimed: “This would have a devastating effect on the low-income farming sectors, who are very dependent on CAP payments.

“Average farm incomes are 40% of average earnings in other sectors across the EU. On cattle rearing and sheep farms, direct payments account for up to 115% of average farm income,” he added.

Despite the fall in income, the CAP budget has been steadily reduced in recent decades – from 60% in the early 1990s to 30% today.

“Farmers need an increase in the CAP budget to, at least, keep pace with inflation, and to support farmers for any additional measures they will be expected to take on as part of the new CAP,” declared Healy.