Phil Hogan commits to future of direct payments - worth €1.2bn to Irish farmers
Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan has given a key commitment to maintain direct payments to European farmers, which are worth around €1.2bn annually to Irish farmers, in the upcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
His comments were made in a speech in the European Parliament and come despite his previous warning of a €3bn "black hole" in the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) after the UK leaves the European Union.
Indeed, the extent of the expenditure on the CAP of around €56bn a year was already under question, before Brexit ever became a concern.
Hogan, who recently announced a 12-week consultation process on reforming the CAP post-2020, said he is "determined to maintain basic income support and an effective safety net through a system of direct payments".
“That continues to be an essential element of the CAP without which the viability of perhaps tens of thousands of farmers would be seriously compromised,” he said.
However, the Commissioner also warned that the extent to which the EU can continue intervene in times of poor market prices will be more limited in the future.
“2015 and 2016 were difficult years for farmers and the European Commission had to intervene on a number of occasions to support hard-pressed producers, mobilising over €1.5bn in taxpayers' money.
“The Commission's actions are a demonstration of our commitment to stand by our farmers, but intervention of this nature is not sustainable and we need to look, therefore, at how we ensure that we have an effective toolkit at our disposal to react quickly and effectively in the event of future price shocks,” he said.