Farmers fear loss of CAP cash
RADICAL proposals to revamp the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) have sparked fears among farmers that direct aid for the sector could face the chop.
In a blueprint unveiled yesterday, EU farm chief Dacian Ciolos set out the direction of the CAP after 2013, suggesting a "greener, fairer, more effective and more efficient" system.
Mr Ciolos, Romania's commissioner, is adamant that the 12 mostly eastern European member states that joined the bloc since 2004 should get a fair share of agricultural aid.
"We don't want to continue with a two-speed Europe and a two-speed CAP," he said.
The ideas paper suggests a redistribution of direct aid, worth €1.3bn a year to Irish farmers, from west to eastern Europe.
Irish Farmers' Association president John Bryan has said that the proposals as they stand would be "devastating" for Irish farms.
He says moves to do away with the Irish model of calculating aid based on past payments would also be harmful.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith said he was prepared to "defend" the level of Irish payments, which amount to €1.6bn a year when money for rural and environmental protection, disadvantaged areas and forestry premiums are taken into account.