Farmer fury over ‘back door’ CAP bud­get cuts

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Cado­gan

De­lays in ne­go­ti­a­tions on the EU bud­get and Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy re­form have led to tran­si­tion ar­range­ments which farm­ers fear will cut their di­rect pay­ments 11% in Oc­to­ber, 2020.

Even more se­vere cuts in ru­ral de­vel­op­ment schemes for farm­ers are feared by the Copa-co­geca al­liance of EU farm­ers and co-ops.

The cuts are in tran­si­tional reg­u­la­tions which are needed be­cause the 2020 CAP re­form is run­ning late, and will not be for­mally adopted in time. But the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion wants tran­si­tion bud­get­ing in line with its pro­pos­als to cut over­all EU bud­gets.

With many Mem­ber States hav­ing ob­jected to such cuts in CAP bud­gets, they are likely to now op­pose the Com­mis­sion’s “back-door” cuts.

The tran­si­tion ar­range­ments aare in­ter­preted in Ire­land as propos­ing cuts of 4%.

IFA Pres­i­dent Joe Healy has said that the pro­posed CAP tran­si­tion mea­sures in an EU Com­mis­sion doc­u­ment are likely to cut ev­ery farmer’s di­rect pay­ment 4% in Oc­to­ber 2020, with more se­vere ru­ral de­vel­op­ment cuts.

“Farm­ers can­not af­ford to take th­ese cuts. The Taoiseach and the Min­is­ter must put their foot down now, and say they will not ac­cept it.”

“Be­cause the EU will not be able to get new CAP rules in place in time for 2020, they plan to keep the old CAP but ap­ply the new EU bud­get pro­posed by the Com­mis­sion last year.

“This will see a cut of €47m or 4% on pil­lar 1 Di­rect Pay­ments and €48m or 15% in pil­lar 2 which cov­ers farm schemes such as GLAS and ANC,” said Mr Healy.

This would cut pay­ments to Ir­ish farm­ers €97m per year.

“This pro­posed new bud­get has not been ap­proved by mem­ber states or the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment,” he said.

“The Taoiseach has been telling farm­ers he has their back. It is now time for him to show he means this, by re­ject­ing this money sav­ing ma­noeu­vre by the Com­mis­sion,” said the IFA Pres­i­dent.

In Brus­sels, Copa-co­geca Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Pekka Peso­nen said, “We can­not ac­cept that the CAP bud­get sees a cut as sig­nif­i­cant as the one pro­posed. The CAP bud­get must be, at least, main­tained in real terms.

“This also im­plies that dur­ing the tran­si­tion pe­riod there can­not be any cuts to the fund­ing.”

Mr Peso­nen said, “Since it is not pos­si­ble to have the fu­ture CAP im­ple­mented from Jan­uary 1, 2021, it is im­por­tant to se­cure a tran­si­tional set of rules that should func­tion as a bridge be­tween the two set of rules, the cur­rent CAP and the CAP post-2020. Any new mea­sures and in­ter­ven­tions should only come with the CAP post-2020.

“For this, we need a clear com­mit­ment and timely de­ci­sion from the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.”

He said while CAP re­form talks con­tinue, a tran­si­tion should al­low Mem­ber States to have the time to prop­erly de­velop their strate­gic plans, which are a pro­posed new fea­ture of the CAP.

On the last day of the tran­si­tion pe­riod, all Mem­ber States would need to have op­er­a­tional Strate­gic Plans ready to be put in place the next day.

But CAP re­form ex­pert Alan Matthews (see capre­ said it is hard to see how the Com­mis­sion could have pro­ceeded dif­fer­ently, given that EU bud­get (MFF) ceil­ings for 2021-2027 are not yet agreed.

He said if those ceil­ings end up higher than what the Com­mis­sion has pro­posed, a fur­ther amend­ment could, pre­sum­ably, be made to up­date the tran­si­tion reg­u­la­tion.

IFA Pres­i­dent Joe Healy says Gov­ern­ment must re­ject CAP cuts in tran­si­tion doc­u­ment.

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