Proposed €5 billion cut to CAP ‘unacceptable’ – IFA

The proposed cut to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget has been deemed “unacceptable” by Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The CAP budget faces an uncertain future in any event, but the latest proposal from this weekend’s European Council meeting indicates that there may be a €5 billion cut to the budget, according to the IFA.

Cullinan said the latest papers from the meeting in Brussels show that rather than increasing the overall allocation, it may be reduced by some €5 billion.

“In the draft before the talks began, €15 billion was allocated to the rural development (Pillar 2) element of the CAP from the €750 billion recovery fund. We understand this has now been reduced to €10 billion,” he said.

This cut is unacceptable and the Taoiseach must make it clear that it is a total non-runner.

On Friday, July 17, Cullinan called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to make CAP his “top priority“, and that Martin has to be “crystal clear that there can be no cut to any farmer payments”.

However, Cullinan is now concerned that Martin may come back with a worse situation than imagined.

“We cannot have a scenario where our Taoiseach comes back from the talks with less for the CAP than he went out with; the CAP budget must increase – not reduce,” Cullinan said.

“It is easy to talk the talk but now he needs to walk the walk,” he added.

Cullinan concluded: “The EU wants farmers to do more for the environment and biodiversity; yet they will not back it up with the necessary funding.”

2-year CAP transition under threat

Aside, it has emerged that the European Commission is at loggerheads with the other two bodies at the top of the EU – the European Parliament and the European Council – over the length of the CAP transition period.

At the end of June, it was announced that a two-year extension to programmes under CAP had been provisionally agreed between the parliament and council.

Also Read: 2-year CAP transition under threat from commission

Under that agreement, programmes supported under CAP would be extended to December 31, 2022, due to the delay in agreeing the EU budget – officially known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – for 2021 to 2027.

However, the commission is insisting on an extension of only one year, and has said that the possibility that a transition period will be scrapped altogether “remains on the table”.