EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan today (April 20th) stated that his top priority in the ongoing EU budget negotiation is "protecting the small and medium-sized farmer who remains the backbone of Europe's food production and rural communities".
Ahead of a Citizens' Dialogue with 400 farmers in Kilkenny City, co-organised by the IFA and the European Commission Office in Ireland, Hogan said:
"The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a European success story and I believe it represents excellent value for money for our citizens, guaranteeing them the best food quality and safety in the world and keeping our rural areas sustainable and attractive".
But he cautioned that "the challenge in defending the CAP is unprecedented this time around".
Brexit blowing a €12 billion hole in EU budget
"Brexit is blowing a €12 billion hole in the overall European budget, and other priorities such as security, migration and defence have grown in prominence in recent years.
"Therefore in many quarters, the CAP is viewed as the obvious target for cuts.
"Member States have the possibility to make up the Brexit shortfall by contributing a higher percentage of Gross National Income. I have been making this point strongly to heads of state and agriculture ministers across the EU, and I have also been offering a robust defence of the CAP and the value for money it delivers.
"I met the prime ministers of Ireland, Hungary, Portugal, France, Slovenia and the Baltic states in recent months, and they are receptive to my arguments.
"But we need to be realistic: in the absence of more money from Member States, there will be a cut to the CAP budget. My job as I see it is to build the strongest possible coalition to resist the worst of these cuts, and achieve the best outcome in a difficult scenario."
Equity and fairness for farmers
"The bottom line is that farmer income must continue to be supported – particularly our small and medium-sized farmers. This is the role and duty of the CAP, as outlined in the EU founding treaties, and if we expect farmers to make a bigger contribution in relation to the climate challenge and other societal goals, they must be rewarded for that work.
"For me, this is about equity and fairness for our farmers, who provide our citizens with so many public goods."