Ahead of the EU Heads of Government meeting this week to discuss the EU Budget 2014-2020, IFA President John Bryan warned that cuts to the CAP Budget proposed by President von Rompuy would be disastrous for Irish agriculture.
“If they go ahead, the cuts will result in a loss of €1billion in EU transfers to Ireland, which will have a direct impact on farm income and will also have a negative knock-on effect on production decisions. This will hit farm families and every town and village in the country hard, and the growth targets for Irish agriculture will be jeopardised.”
John Bryan said, “Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s priority at the talks on Thursday must be to maintain the overall Budget at existing levels. He must adopt a strong negotiating stance and resist the attempts by some Member States, notably the UK, to push for any reduction. The Single Farm Payment and Rural Development measures are crucial for production at farm level; both account for an annual investment of €1.6bn into the Irish economy”.
The IFA President urged the Taoiseach to build on Ireland’s alliances with those countries that recognise the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy. “Historically, the UK has refused to support sustainable food production and has never acknowledged the significant role the CAP plays in underpinning food security for Europe’s 500 million consumers. Their Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure from his backbenchers to demand a cut in the EU Budget, but he must be faced down. Farmers expect the Taoiseach to hold tough and secure a full CAP budget, which is so vital for our largest indigenous industry.”
Mr Bryan said the expansion targets under Food Harvest 2020 are only achievable with a full CAP budget. “There is a danger that our ambitions will be thwarted if CAP funding is not maintained. Without support for farm production, the 300,000 jobs that rely on farming and food and the €9bn in export earnings will be undermined.”
John Bryan said a positive outcome to the talks, both in terms of the envelope of funding and the distribution of the Single Farm Payment, would be critical for Irish agriculture. “The coming months will be defining for our sector. I want to see the Government devote all the resources needed to negotiate a CAP post-2013 that will allow farming and food to realise its potential.”