The EU’s budget chief has confirmed losing British cash will lead to cuts in funding for European farmers after Brexit.
In February, Farmers Guardian reported EU farm payments were set to be slashed, with German farming union the DBV particularly concerned about Britain taking away its £2.5 billion annual contribution to the agriculture budget.
After releasing a report into the future of the EU’s finances, Gunther Oettinger, the EU’s budget commissioner, tweeted: “If we need to cut, the big programmes #agriculture, #cohesion cannot be excluded.”
He said the ‘Brexit gap’ needs to be financed by a mix of cuts, more cash and ‘new tasks with fresh money’.
EU farming group Copa and Cogeca met Commissioner Oettinger two weeks ago to ‘underline the need to maintain agriculture spending at current levels’.
After the meeting, Copa President Martin Merrild said: “Copa and Cogeca strongly disagree with any proposals to cut Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) spending in the EU budget in the future.
“Farmers’ incomes are already only 40 per cent of average EU earnings and have dropped by 20 per cent in the past four years.
“Yet they are the ones responsible not only for producing high-quality safe food every day, which complies with tough production and welfare standards, but also they are part of the solution in tackling climate change.”
He responded by saying there were decisions to be made on funding which were ‘above his pay grade’, but he was ‘not contemplating’ a £2.5 billion reduction of the CAP budget.