“Any cut to CAP is still a cut to farm incomes,” said Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher in response to the updated Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and EU Budget proposal from the EU Commission yesterday which again results in a 10% cut to rural development spending.

The Ireland South MEP was commenting following the announcement by the Commission that, despite increases of €15 billion through the ‘Next Generation EU’ rescue plan and €5 billion from the updated MFF, overall rural development funding will drop by 10% compared to the 2014-2020 plan.

“Cuts of this magnitude will gut rural communities and force many farmers to close. It’s just not sustainable for many to continue farming if their income is cut but the requirements on them, which are quite expensive, are not reduced.

“Yes, this is a smaller cut than previously proposed by the Commission but it will still have a devastating impact on farmers that rely on CAP funding to keep their heads above water.

“This isn’t acceptable. I, and Fianna Fáil, have consistently called for the CAP budget to be retained at the 2014-2020 level, as farmers will need this level of funding to support the transition to low-carbon activities.

“The Irish members of the European Parliament must fight tooth and nail to reduce this cut as much as possible. We must also work hand in hand together to defend Irish interests.

“Cuts to CAP are a direct threat to farm incomes. Additionally, they will have a knock on effect in rural economies where secondary businesses and employment will feel the cuts. We cannot have farmers going out of businesses at a time when food security has never been so important,” concluded Kelleher.