‘Unacceptable’: Farm organisations react angrily to proposed CAP cuts

Irish farm organisations have given their reaction to the news today that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is set to be cut by 5%.

ICSA

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent has said today’s announcement on a proposed 5% cut will be very worrying for Irish farmers.

He said: “It is now time for straight talking on how we can support farmers who face huge challenges especially in the light of Brexit.

“The 5% cut in CAP – which translates into 4% cut in direct payments – is unacceptable. It is clear that while member states are being asked to increase their contribution, the figure of 1.114% of GNI [Gross National Income] is less than many would have hoped for.

It is also critical to note that Commissioner Oettinger has also outlined ideas for increased ‘own resources’ for the EU which are highly likely to be controversial and which Ireland will have difficulties with.

“Therefore all options must be explored including national co-financing of direct payments, subject to strict guidelines to ensure fairness for all EU farmers.

“The assumption that the EU can do more in other areas by raiding CAP funds has to be challenged. The focus should really be on more efficient use of EU resources,” Kent said.

“A cut in CAP funding simply cannot be absorbed by Irish farmers. It is impossible to expect farmers to do more and more for less and less and this message has to get through.”

IFA

Meanwhile, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has a big political challenge on his hands, and an increased CAP budget for Irish farmers has to be a “red line issue” for him in the negotiations.

“It is clear that the commission has moved to fill the Brexit gap; but it has prioritised other areas at the expense of the CAP, which is another setback for Irish farmers on foot of the UK decision to leave,” he said.

The president said there is a huge task for the Irish Government, the Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and Irish MEPs to get an increase in the CAP budget.

“They must pull out all the stops and reject the cuts agenda by the commission,” he said.

Healy concluded: “All sectors have shared in the economic revival – yet farmers have had their direct payments eroded by inflation. At the very least, farmers need a CAP increase in line with inflation.”

ICMSA

Finally, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president, Pat McCormack, has described the proposals as “unacceptable”.

He said that the proposal will have a disproportionately damaging effect in rural Ireland through the multiplier effect as the payments go through farm families and out into the wider rural economy.

McCormack said that farmers have suffered significant cuts in previous CAP reforms and are now, yet again, having to take a substantial hit – particularly those farmers depending on farming for their living who will be hit with an additional convergence cut.

He said that the very idea of simplification as set out is “highly questionable”.

“The Irish Government must firstly tell the commission that cuts to CAP are out of the question and member states – including Ireland – must make up the Brexit deficit.

“Secondly, we must seek out member states with a similar commitment to the integrity of CAP and make a common cause with them,” McCormack said.