Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 23 May 2018

'CAP policy circle won't be easy to square': Creed

East-west divide opens up on farmers' demands

Minister Michael Creed
Minister Michael Creed
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Establishing a national CAP position that represents the differing regional views and aspirations of farmers will be a major challenge, admitted Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.

Mr Creed said the recent CAP consultation meetings highlighted the stark divergence of opinions on EU farm policy that exist amongst farmers.

"My overarching impression is there are very different asks depending on geography in the country, and that is not going to be an easy circle to square," Mr Creed told the Farming Independent.

While a greater degree of national discretion on the focus of CAP spending has been promised as part of next programme, the minister said this could add to the domestic battle on how funds are spent.

"There are very different asks in Charleville and Carlow from the asks in Claremorris and Carrick-on-Shannon. That is a challenge," he said.

Mr Creed said that the "differing agendas" on issues such as frontloading of CAP payments and capping of entitlements highlighted the distance between the opposing positions.

"Add into the mix then the sustainability objectives that will be a part of CAP. You are looking at very significant challenges to get a CAP that all people can subscribe to," he said.

Cuts

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Mr Creed's comments follow on from those of European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger who warned that the overall CAP budget was facing a cut of between 5pc and 10pc.

Speaking to a Joint Oireachtas Committee, the commissioner said the CAP cuts were a consequence of €12-14bn hole in the EU budget from Brexit.

"I think what he [Oettinger] is doing is putting it up to us. He is basically saying, 'listen in a no change scenario with the UK gone we face this possibility,'" said the minister, describing the comments as "quite blunt"

He said the Taoiseach had indicated a willingness to make increased contributions but the Government had to be sure that the country benefited from such a commitment.

Commissioner Oettinger's suggested CAP cuts will also face opposition in the European Parliament, insisted Irish MEP, Mairead McGuinness.

"The agriculture and rural development committee is determined to fully defend the CAP budget and to fight cuts to the budget," the parliament's vice president said.

Meanwhile, ICMSA president Pat McCormack called on the Government to immediately signal that Ireland will not accept a reduced CAP budget post 2020 and will push for additional contributions.

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