Proposed CAP budget cuts pose 'major threat to farming in Ireland', IFA warns

The European Commission says the proposals would mean a 'fairer distribution of payments'

Proposed CAP budget cuts pose 'major threat to farming in Ireland', IFA warns

IFA President Joe Healy. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Irish Farmers Association has described proposed cuts to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget as a 'major threat' to farming in Ireland.

For its 2021 to 2027 plan, the European Commission has proposed reducing the budget for direct support for farmers by around €30 billion.

The Commission says: "Direct payments to farmers will be reduced as of €60,000 and capped for payments above €100,000 per farm.

"Labour costs will be taken fully into account. This is designed to ensure a fairer distribution of payments."

It's also proposing to give more money to small and medium-sized farms, and setting up a fund for young farmers.

The IFA, however, wants the government to insists on an increased budget.

The association's President Joe Healy said: "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 Taoiseach must insist on an increased budget to take account of inflation and the cost of any additional measures imposed on farmers."

He suggested that "the future of farming and rural Ireland" is at stake.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan, however, claims the changes could mean a fairer system for member states.

He observed: "Of course it will mean less money will be available, but we have a number of opportunities for the fairer distribution of payments.

He said: "There are options here if member states and the European Parliament have the political will to agree with me that a fair distribution of payments - to help small and medium-sized farmers, and target payments at young farmers - is the way to go."

The proposed budget of €365 billion would see CAP account for just under a third of the total EU budget.