FRENCH farmers are not shy about voicing their displeasure at things that upset them and this will also provide a boost for their Irish counterparts when the wheeling and dealing to reverse proposed cuts to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) for the period 2021 to 2027 get under way. With the impeding loss of the UK’s net contribution to the CAP budget after Brexit, the cuts proposal made at last week’s multi-annual financial framework (MFF) announcement was not unexpected, however Agriculture Minister Michael Creed was still ‘extremely disappointed,’ as were all the Irish farming organisations, and understandably so.
The European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Gunther Oettinger, has proposed a 5% cut in the next CAP tranche, which will lead to a reduction in direct payments made to farmers. This is the only income for many farmers, especially those involved in tillage and sheep, and any cut in direct payments would probably force them out of agriculture.
Most countries in the EU, including Ireland, are willing to contribute pro rata to make up the shortfall in the CAP budget that will be caused by Brexit, but there are some who aren’t and Minister Creed has already met his influential counterparts in France and Germany to try to head off the cuts so that Europe’s high farming standards can be maintained
As he said, ‘We need farmers to take active steps to mitigate climate change, protect water quality and biodiversity, and improve their competitiveness. A strong CAP is a prerequisite if these objectives, which are in the best interests of all citizens, are to be achieved.’
Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan also needs to use all the influence he can exert to have the proposed CAP budget cuts reversed for the sake of all farmers across the EU.