Declan O'Brien: Poor prospects for Christmas cheer on Pillar II
FARM organisations and Minister Simon Coveney look to be on a collision course regarding the level of co-funding for the next CAP Pillar II programme.
While the IFA, ICMSA and ICSA have all insisted that nothing short of 50:50 co-funding will be acceptable, the Minister strongly hinted in Limerick last Friday that this will not be a runner.
Indeed, he appeared to suggest the level of co-funding will be significantly lower than that being sought by the farm bodies. This is not good news for farmers or for the rural economy.
For the uninitiated, Pillar II of CAP is co-funded by the EU and the national exchequer. However, the Government contribution can vary from 47pc down to 15pc.
At a Government co-funding rate of 47pc, which in reality is the best possible scenario, the total budget for the Pillar II programme would be around €590m.
Of this total, €313m would be supplied by the EU, with the remaining €280m coming from the national exchequer.
But speaking to reporters at the ICMSA annual general meeting in Limerick last Friday, Minister Coveney claimed that the overall spend on Pillar II at the moment was €405m. This seems low to me but I presume the Minister has the correct figures.
Either way, he appeared to suggest that a sizeable increase beyond this level was extremely unlikely given the current state of the national finances.