EU farmers concerned at proposed agricultural budget cuts

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Farmers across the EU are reportedly calling for the EU Commission not to implement any cuts in the bloc’s agricultural spending.

EU farmers concerned at proposed agricultural budget cuts

The commission recently released a reflections paper that offers proposals for the restructuring of the EU’s spending from 2020, including spending on the region’s agricultural sector.

Reacting to the release of the paper, EU agricultural union, Copa and Cogeca (CopaCogeca), said that any future cuts to the region’s Common Agricultural Policy spending to the 28 member states would threaten farmers’ competitiveness, growth, job creation and their ability to meet environmental protection targets.

“We call on the commission, members of the European Parliament, and ministers not to make any further cuts in agriculture spending. [EU] farmers’ incomes are already only 40% of average earnings, and have fallen by 20% in the past four years,” said CopaCogeca’s secretary-general, Pekka Pesonen.

The EU’s 2014 to 2020 budget for agriculture, rural development, fisheries, and environment is €420 billion (R6,3 trillion). Seventy percent of this consists of direct payments to farmers.

“This income support partially fills the gap between agricultural income and comparable income for other economic sectors. The most recent reform of this policy introduced major changes to the system of direct payments, targeted to address the particular needs of young farmers and smaller farms, specific sectors or regions in difficulties, and the environment,” the reflections paper said.

CopaCogeca reported that options currently on the table for agricultural spending cuts included capping direct aid payments to larger farming operations in the bloc, and using national co-funding to fund any shortfalls in direct payments from the EU to farmers.

“But Copa and Cogeca will fight to ensure that there are no spending cuts. The [EU] agriculture sector also faces many more challenges like climate events [and] natural disasters, which other sectors do not have,” the agricultural union said.

The finalising of the commission’s budget will reportedly be debated sometime over September and November 2018.