Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that farm organisations, the government and rural representatives across Europe must prepare for a battle if significant cuts to the CAP budget are to be avoided.
Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger has told German farmers that cuts are coming to the direct payment subsidy. The Commission is seeking cuts to the overall EU budget and clearly farmers are in their sights. Oettinger indicated that these cuts could take the form of a 5-10% reduction in agriculture and cohesion spending.
“It is true the CAP budget is facing increased pressure due to the potential €4billion hole following Brexit; but farmers cannot pay the price twice – once in a cut to direct payments and again in possible barriers to trade with the UK.
“Only 6% of EU farmers are under 35. Every new slash to farm income prospects reinforces a message to young people that there is no future in farming. As farmers face increasing pressure to make farming practices sustainable the communities that depend on local agriculture also face uncertain prospects.
“Minister Creed has acknowledged the difficulty when he said ‘we can have all of the lofty ambitions for the Common Agricultural Policy, but if we don’t have the budget, they’re but pipe dreams really’.
“The Irish government must not only diagnose the problem but also start to look at solutions as many farm representatives fear that the government has already resigned itself to the fact cuts are coming.
“Sinn Fein will not tolerate a situation whereby Irish farmers, and the communities that depend on them, face fierce cuts while the EU, with the support of our government, prepares to spend billions on a militarisation agenda in the guise of European defense fund. If cuts to the EU budget are required the commission should look no further than that vanity project
“Sinn Fein is opposed to any proposed reduction of the CAP budget although we will vigorously campaign for greater equity in payments so that so on the lowest payments receive additional income support.
“The current situation whereby 80% of the CAP budget is directed at the 20% of highest earners is unsustainable and actually weakens our arguments in support of farm subsidies.
“It is beyond question now that the CAP budget is under threat. If that threat is to be withstood then a concerted campaign by farm organisations, the government and all rural representatives is required. That campaign must start now.”