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Friday 19 October 2018

'We are extremely concerned' - Creed hits out at raid on CAP budget

Minister for Agriculture, Food and The Marine, Michael Creed. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Minister for Agriculture, Food and The Marine, Michael Creed. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the government is extremely concerned over proposed cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy.

Under plans for the EU’s budget for 2021-2027, farmers would receive around €232 billion in direct support, a drop of more than €30 billion from the current seven-year budget.

Speaking before a meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers, he said “we believe it is not reasonable to ask farmers to do more and more and continuing to get less and less”.

“We acknowledge that Europe faces many challenges but we don’t believe that is a reason to raid the CAP budget.

“We have had informal conversations with other member states and we believe there is a substantial number that shares that position,” he said.

The Dutch led the charge for rich northern states unwilling to step into the Brexit breach: “A smaller EU ... should have a smaller budget,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

Against that, France’s agriculture minister called it “simply unthinkable” to shave 5pc off Brussels’ hefty spending on farm subsidies.

Speaking after the meeting, Agriculture and Rural Development Commission Phil Hogan stressed that it was up to Member States to come up with additional funds.

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He highlighted the importance of having the EU’s next seven-year budget agreed by the end of March 2019.

“This will coincide with the UK leaving the EU. The financial implications of that are well known. A net budget reduction of €12 billion”.

Hogan warned if there is no agreement at that stage by then the Commission is obliged under various EU treaties and the law to live within the financial parameters that are already agreed for 2014 -2020.

He said Member States and the EU Parliament have a big responsibility to ensure that there is “stability, certainty and predictability in terms of farmers income and the payment of monies to agricultural programmes.

“If we don’t we could face a situation where there are possible cuts in various payments right across the board including agriculture.

“This is not something that Member States and Members of the European Parliament have fully grasped yet,” he warned.

IFA President Joe also addressed the meeting and stressed that proposed cuts to the CAP Budget are a major threat to farming and must be strongly resisted.

“The fundamental issue for farmers is the size of the CAP Budget. It is completely unacceptable that any cut is being contemplated when farmers are already struggling on low incomes and are being asked to do more under CAP proposals.”

The IFA President has called on the Agriculture Ministers, including Michael Creed, to make it clear that they cannot accept the Commission proposals on the CAP Budget announced last week.

Joe Healy said, “They must insist on a CAP budget that takes account of inflation and the cost of any additional measures imposed on farmers”.

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