IFA president tells EU Commissioner: ‘CAP cut simply won’t wash’

The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has told the European Commissioner for Agriculture that the approximate 9% cut in real value for the proposed new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was “very concerning”.

Speaking at a meeting of COPA, the umbrella group for European farm organisations, Tim Cullinan told Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski – who addressed the meeting – that “increasing the costs and restrictions on European farmers while cutting the CAP budget is simply a contradiction that won’t wash”.

The proposed EU budget – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – for 2021 to 2027, was revealed last week. It predicts funding for the CAP in the amount of €348.3 billion until 2027, in terms of 2018 prices, compared to the €382 billion that went to the CAP for 2014 to 2020, in 2018 prices.

There is a particular concern around the level of Pillar I funding as this could result in actual cuts to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) on top of the impact of inflation.

The IFA president argued that direct payments – currently worth €1.8 billion to farmers – must be increased to €2 billion for the next CAP.

“Pillar II schemes are needed to support farmers in marginal areas through ANCs [Areas of Natural Constraints] and agri-environment schemes, and strong investment support to modernise and help efficiencies on farms,” Cullinan told the commissioner.

“The recent demands on farmers under the Farm to Fork Strategy are not being met by appropriate funding. Irish farmers already meet best practice standards in their usage of antimicrobial medicines,” he said.

In any measure concerning food security, the margin received by the farmer must be looked at…who is getting the margin? Very often it is the retailer and not the farmer.

Cullinan also asked Commissioner Wojciechowski if there would be funding allocated to farmers under the Just Transition Fund, which will be funded to the tune of €40 billion if last week’s EU budget proposals are accepted by member states.

The IFA president also called on the commissioner to review imports from non-EU countries (third countries) that do not meet standards enforced within the EU.

“Sectors such as the Irish beef sector, with 90% of exports going to the UK and continental Europe, are struggling to compete with imports from third countries because we don’t have a level playing field,” Cullinan argued.