The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is calling on the Taoiseach to “honour the commitment” he made in February 2018 to provide additional funding in order to protect the CAP budget.
“At the time, An Taoiseach committed to increasing Ireland’s contribution in line with an increase in contributions from all other member states.” National President Colm O’Donnell stated.
If implemented, O’Donnell outlined, this would have seen an increase in member state contributions from the current rate of 1.1% of Gross National Income (GNI) up to 1.3% of GNI.
This increase. the organisation estimates, would for Ireland, amount to €550m each year.
The farm leader believes this proposal is “unlikely” to now happen in light of a “major reluctance” from some EU countries.
“But this commitment was made which would indicate that the Government were willing to provide substantial funding towards CAP and as we move towards a new CAP Programme it is vital that this promised funding is not forgotten.”
The new CAP Programme as currently proposed will “see cuts of almost 4% to Pillar 1 and over 15% to the Rural Development Programme (RDP) through Pillar 2”, he added.
He said that cuts to the RDP, which is co-funded by the EU and Government, will “see an overall cut for the duration of the next CAP Programme (2021 to 27) of €700m”.
O’ Donnell believes that if this is applied, it will have a “major impact” on the ANC, TAMS and any new agri-environmental scheme, which are all schemes that “many smaller farmers are dependent on”.
“With both our suckler and sheep sectors in crisis, the impact of cuts, such as this, would, wipe out farming in many areas and create a knock-on effect in these communities.”
“Fortunately, our Government have the option to fund the RDP at a much higher rate than it currently does (52/48) and thankfully our Taoiseach has promised the funding to do so.”
“By just using €350m per year of the €550m promised, we increase the ANC budget by another €50m and deliver a payment to farmers of up to €5,000.”
“We could double the payment rates on the sheep welfare scheme and deliver a suckler cow payment of €200 per cow.”
In addition to this, O’Donnell added, the TAMS budget could be increased and a payment of up to €10,000 on a new agri-environmental scheme could be delivered.
He concluded by emphasising how this additional funding can benefit farmers, their communities and the state and “should be seen in this context”.