Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called on MEPs not to allow Brexit budgetary shortfall to fall on farmers.
Carthy, who is shadow rapporteur for the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee’s Opinion on preparing the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework, was speaking at a committee meeting in in Brussels.
“The British departure from the European Union is set to inflict revenue losses of €10bn a year on the EU budget. Any reduction in spending could disproportionately affect the CAP budget, since it has the largest share. In fact the Brexit shortfall in CAP could be anywhere between €3.8bn to €4.1bn a year.
“Filling the Brexit funding gap is one of the biggest fears felt by the farming community at the moment. However finding this €3bn is not impossible, and I would urge all MEPs to keep the pressure on to ensure that farmers continue to be supported by funds at least equivalent to those currently available.
“Rigorously enforcing an upper limit cap on the amount of subsidies farmers receive right across the EU would ensure that those reliant on Direct Payments could continue to earn a livelihood from their farms.
“It is Sinn Féin’s belief that there should be a cap of €50,000 on Pillar 1 Direct Payments and a redistribution of increased payments for most farmers, and we will be pushing for this in the upcoming reforms. Properly enforcing an upper limit on subsidies is just one way of beginning to infuse equality into a payments system which at present is cementing inequalities between farmers and across regions.
“Research papers presented to this Committee only a couple of weeks ago also proved that this shortfall could easily be made up by applying horizontal cuts to military and security spending, and a number of other programmes. On the 7th June this year the European Commission launched a European Defence Fund worth €5.5bn, funds which would be better spent on CAP and other popular measures.
“It is unacceptable that such large amounts of money are being pumped into the arms industry while farmers relying on subsidies as a lifeline are left waiting to hear their fate on Brexit. Sinn Féin will be calling for cuts to all military and defence spending, which not only run counter to Ireland’s long-established principle of neutrality, but are an insult to farmers and rural communities being threatened with cuts”.