‘I am extremely disappointed at proposed CAP cuts’ – Creed

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has stated that he is “extremely disappointed” at cuts proposed for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the period from 2021 to 2027.

Yesterday, the European Commission’s draft EU budget for the next seven years proposed that the CAP budget be reduced by 5%; while direct payments are to be reduced by no more than 4%.

In a statement, Minister Creed highlighted that – over the next few years – farm families will be required to play a “vital role” in the protection and enhancement of the environment and the production of food “to the highest standards in the world”.

“These high standards, and the family-farm model, are part of the fabric of European values; but come at a price that EU citizens have shown they are willing to pay.

“We need farmers to take active steps to mitigate climate change, protect water quality and biodiversity, and improve their competitiveness,” he said.

A strong CAP is a prerequisite if these objectives, which are in the best interests of all citizens, are to be achieved.

The minister highlighted that European agriculture is also facing into a period of “significant market uncertainty” against the background of Brexit.

“In all of these circumstances, and in particular because many farm families rely on the CAP for virtually their entire income, a cut in funding is simply not a realistic proposition.

“With the loss of UK net contributions, this was always going to be a very difficult negotiation and – ultimately – the final decision rests in the hands of the member states and the European Parliament.”

‘Fighting tooth and nail’

Minister Creed acknowledged that the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, had “fought hard” to protect the budget in the face of demands from some quarters for much larger cuts.

“He [the commissioner] has made it clear that additional funding will be needed if the cuts proposed are to be avoided. Member states are just now at the start of what will be a long and complicated process.

“I have already been meeting with counterparts in Berlin and Paris this week, to set out Ireland’s stall and begin to build consensus among farm ministers around the need for a strong CAP budget.

Some member states have indicated that they do not wish to contribute more to the EU budget and therefore this will be a difficult negotiation.

“I want to assure farmers that Ireland will fight tooth and nail to protect the CAP budget in the negotiation to come,” the minister concluded.