Farmers demand that EU Member States replace UK contribution to farm payments

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers are demanding that EU Member States make up the expected shortfall in the EU's farm budget.

Speaking in advance of the CAP conference being held in Brussels today (Fri, 7 July), the President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has said that while people are encouraged by the sense of renewal and resurgence in the EU, that sense of unity must be demonstrated by a commitment to fully fund a new CAP that will continue to support the production of high quality food for the EU’s consumers through the maintenance of an indigenous and vibrant family-farm system.

John Comer said that while he expected to hear ‘dozens’ of contributions about what CAP should or should not be doing, all depended on the CAP budget being adequate for scope of the challenge it addressed.   

Comer said that recently the challenge around the CAP Budget had come sharply into focus as reports circulated that the overall EU Budget cuts resulting from the loss of the UK’s contribution would fall disproportionately on CAP.

Ireland’s position must be made abundantly clear: CAP must not be cut and Mr. Comer said that position had to be made as bluntly and as often as was required.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has also recently raised the possibility of the Government exchequer having to make up for a shortfall in the EU's agriculture budget.

Speaking at a Teagasc open day for Dairy Farmers in Cork today, the Minister highlighted that the UK contributes €10 billion per annum into the EU budget of which 40pc goes to find payments to EU farmers under the Common Agriculture Policy. 

"We are, like the UK, a net contributor to the EU now", he said.

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The Minister highlighted that the multiplier effect in the rural community of the payments that come from the EU, most significantly the Single Farm Payment, is hugely important to those areas and said if that were to be cut would cause significant damage.

"The big issue that needs to be addressed is 'should we be equally prepared to contribute extra to the CAP budget?'

"It is a fair question, but it is one that would not be useful to contribute to know. Where we run ahead of the fair with our hands up and saying we'll pay more.

"But given the multiplier effect on rural economy, it is a fair question we shouldn't shy away from," he said.

John Comer said that CAP had been an unalloyed success in delivering the highest standard food to millions of EU citizens at very affordable prices and it remained a very great joint achievement by both the EU and its farmers.

"That achievement, that huge public good, had to be recognised and protected and if maintaining CAP meant increasing the contributions of the remaining 27 Member States – Ireland included - than that is what must happen.

"Reducing CAP by cutting its budget would be to confirm the worst arguments of the Brexiteers and it would also lead almost immediately to significant food price inflation with ‘knock-on’ political and economic implications as well as accelerating the rural depopulation being experienced all over the EU.

“Ireland needs a fully funded CAP; we’ve benefitted hugely from it and we still need it. If keeping a proper CAP means increasing the remaining Member States contributions then Ireland must demand that is what happens”, Mr Comer said.

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