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Saturday 17 November 2018

Hogan blasts IFA over 'fake news' on CAP

Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Claims that CAP budget cuts could be as much as 17pc when inflation is taken in to account have been labelled as "fake news" by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Last week IFA president Joe Healy claimed that when "the real effects of inflation are taken into account, the real impact is 17pc or €3,000 on average per farmer".

Speaking at the CAP consultative conference in Newbridge last week, Fianna Fáil Agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue also claimed that cuts to CAP would result in a 15pc reduction due to inflation over the seven years of CAP post 2020.

"When you take the 5pc cut to CAP overall at the moment it would mean taking inflation over the next seven years in to account and that would result in a 15pc cut in total," he said.

However, Commissioner Hogan told the Farming Independent that these claims are "fake news".

"It's absolute nonsense because we've seen over the years that farm payments from Brussels were never linked to inflation so to be comparing like with like on the basis of something that's never happened is actually not the way we should be doing something," he said.

"What a farmer will look at is his cheque in 2021 and how it compares to 2020 and this is less that 5pc. That's fake news."

Mr Hogan added that the 3.9pc cut proposed by the Commission is the opening position and "the ball is in the Member States' courts if they want to contribute more money".

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However, IFA's Joe Healy told the Farming Independent that there is "no disputing" the effects inflation will have on CAP budget cuts.

"It's unacceptable that farmers are not entitled to any increase to reflect inflation. Every other sector gets increases so why can't farmers?

"The average farmer in Ireland is going to see the real value of their payments reduced by €3,000 a year. There is no disputing that."

Commissioner Hogan also explained that he will be giving a special presentation to the EU Council of Ministers in Brussels this Monday setting out how CAP post-2020 will lead to genuine simplification.

However, stakeholders at the CAP consultative conference last week questioned whether the new CAP actually will be as simple as the Commission claim.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that he has been promised CAP simplification for years but that this has never occurred in reality.

"I've been promised simplification for decades. I'm afraid with Pillar 1 and 2, environmental schemes and now an eco scheme I don't see any level of simplification for the primary producer," he said.

Fine Gael TD Pat Deering also questioned whether allowing countries to construct their own CAP policies is the way forward for simplification and queried whether it could lead to more complications down the line.

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