EU cuts to farm subsidies criticised by farmers groups and governments

As part of the new EU budget, which aims to reduce costs post brexit as well as redistribute funding to new projects, the commission has announced its proposals to reduce farm subsidies under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Under the proposals, farmers across the EU will see their funding shrink by an estimated 365 billion euros, which around 5% lower than the current levels of funding.

Farming will now make up 30% of the EU’s total budget; this is 15% less than it was twenty years ago. “The overall cut in the CAP budget is 5 percent and I regard this as a fair outcome to farmers, particularly given the challenging backdrop of a 12 billion euros Brexit,”

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan told reporters. The proposals still need to be approved, but it’s believed that many EU countries will be required to cap their subsidies for larger farms in favour of small to medium sized farms.

France, which is the biggest beneficiary of CAP funding, has condemned the move, calling it “unthinkable”. A recent statement from Stephane Travert, the Agriculture and Food Minister said: “It poses an unprecedented risk to farms’ viability by seriously impacting farmers’ incomes, for whom direct aid is an essential safety net. France cannot accept any decline in direct income for farmers.”

The cuts have also been criticised by the EU farmers group COPA-COGECA, who have expressed their “strong disappointment with the cuts”. They added: “A strong budget is needed for a sustainable, modern EU agriculture sector delivering on various fronts.”

However, the commission argues that the new budget will give member states more control over where money is spent. This will enable them to increase funding for farms that take action towards becoming more environmentally friendly and farms that invest in rural development. “This system will provide greater flexibility for member states, allowing them to better target environmental objectives and be more ambitious,” it said. Hogan added: “The average farmer in all member states will see no cuts in direct payments if this is managed well.”

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