Farmer fury over ‘back door’ CAP budget cuts
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 capreform.eu) 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.