EU Parliamentary candidate Peter Casey has committed to “winning a fairer deal for farmers” by fighting in Europe for an increased Common Agricultural Policy budget.
Speaking after attending an Irish Farmers’ Association European election summit in Claremorris on Wednesday (April 24), Mr Casey said he will battle for a bigger budget to compensate farmers for additional requirements resulting from the CAP reform currently being negotiated.
The major decisions that shape the next CAP and the future trading relationship between the EU and UK will be taken during the lifetime of the next European Parliament.
The current CAP is due to end next year. The IFA has stated that the new proposals place increased demands on Irish farmers with a reduced CAP budget.
Mr Casey has committed to “battling tooth and nail to secure a better deal for farmers and rural Ireland”.
“The CAP budget must be increased to account for inflation and to compensate our farmers for any additional requirements imposed on them by the newly reformed policy.
“Our farmers are strongly represented by the IFA in Europe, but all of our MEPs must step up to the plate in solidarity to campaign for a better deal during the new term.
“Farmers are the backbone of our rural economy, they are huge exporters who shop locally to the benefit of our local communities. 174,000 people are directly employed in agriculture across our nation, they produce exports valued at more than €13bn, generating 22% of all industry gross output.
“The bad news for farmers is that many are only subsisting; in 2018 average farm incomes declined by 15%.
“They face many difficulties – not least as a result of Brexit. I am backing calls by the IFA for a special purpose package from Europe to off-set Brexit losses incurred by farmers.
“These include emergency EU market disturbance supports, targeted direct producer payments, long-term structural adjustment support and the setting-aside of State Aid limits
“Should we find ourselves in a no-deal Brexit situation, there must be provision for an immediate EU aid package to support our farmers and safeguard the presence of their produce on UK shelves. It is also important that any EU aid takes account for currency devaluations arising from a weakened pound.
“Our farmers deserve a fairer deal and I am committed to fighting in Europe as MEP for Midlands-North-West to ensure they get it.”