EU Commission plans to cut farm support by 5% comes at the worst possible time for farmers

Friday, 29 March, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says that the EU Commission plans to cut farmers’ single farm payment (SFP) across Europe by just under 5% (4.98%) in 2013 has come at the worst possible time. The EU Commission has proposed the cuts under the financial discipline mechanism, which can be triggered to keep the overall Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) within the set budget limits. The proposal from the EU Commission comes after EU heads of state agreed a reduction in the overall 2014-20 EU budget.

Ulster Farmers’ Union President Harry Sinclair said; “The EU Commissions proposals to cut the 2013 direct payments by 5% could not have come at a worse time. The last 12 months have been incredibly difficult for farmers here in Northern Ireland. Farm incomes were down by 50% in 2012 as a result of bad weather across the province and now the recent adverse weather has caused devastation for many of our hill farmers in County Antrim and County Down. 

“However, there is some consolation for farmers here at home. The first 5000 euros of a farmers’ direct payment will be exempt from this cut. In addition to this, towards the end of last year the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill agreed to suspend voluntary modulation in 2013, which is tiered from 9% down to 0% depending on the level of single farm payment. This will help to offset the 5% cut proposed by the EU Commission.

“We are also keeping a close eye on the exchange rate. In the past, the exchange rate has worked in our favour and at the moment it is almost 6% higher than the rate used last September to fix the 2012 single farm payment. If the euro continues to stay strong against the pound it will mean that come September 2013, when the exchange rate is set, a boost for our direct payments.”