A proposal from Germany to cut the EU budget – causing “disproportionate knock-on reductions” in funding for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) – has been heavily criticised by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), which said the proposal “plays into Brexiteer hands” in the UK.

Pat McCormack, the association’s president, was responding to a report by Agribusiness Intelligence which stated that Germany was proposing to put a limit on the EU budget of 1% of the gross national income of the 27 member states (not including the UK) after Brexit.

McCormack called on the Government here to “signal immediately that it would reject the German plans and also form a coalition of member states willing to do the same.

The proposed reductions would completely undermine CAP as a relevant policy and would actually vindicate the baseless claims made by the extreme Brexiteers in the UK regarding the so-called subsidising of EU farmers.

“Circulating the proposals at any time was alarming, but floating the idea now, at this critical juncture when the course that the UK would take is still the subject of intense political and judicial argument, was downright reckless,” he added.

The ICMSA president argued that “all logic” suggested that straightening the CAP was the appropriate course of action, as a way of “demonstrating to everyone, not least the UK, that it is possible to deliver a food supply chain that produces food of the highest standards on the planet, through an indigenous non-industrial farm system, to consumers at reasonable prices”.

McCormack said that the CAP should become the EU’s “primary focus”.

The EU can continue to ensure superb quality food at affordable prices to its urban consumers, or it can further cut the direct payments to farmers made under CAP – but it cannot do both.

“Farmers need to see a bigger portion of the retail margin being returned to the primary producer, and if the CAP budget is cut further, then the slice required by the primary producer will have to grow even further,” he stressed.

McCormack concluded his remarks by saying: “The German proposal, if accepted, will bring forward very serious food inflation and everyone has to understand that. The proposal must be rejected in full by our Government.”