It is “absolutely not” the intention of the European Union (EU) to reduce animal or livestock farming, according to European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski.
The Brussels politician met with the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) national council in Dublin on Monday, and said that his Commission’s policies do not intend for a reduction in meat or milk production by European farmers.
Commissioner Wojciechowski joined approximately 120 IFA representatives at a meeting at the Irish Farm Centre (IFC).
The event was part of his one-day visit to Ireland to open the World Potato Congress in the RDS.
Importance of food
Emphasising his position on the need for maintained food production levels, the Commissioner said that “without food, nothing is possible”.
He said that when it comes to the budget of the EU, funding to ensure food security needs to reach the same level and importance as that for defence and energy security.
He said that, currently, 0.3% of EU gross domestic product (GDP) is invested in agriculture through the CAP, compared with a minimum of 2% for defence.
Intention to increase
Commissioner Wojciechowski warned that there is “not enough [funding in the CAP] to ensure food security in the long term” and told IFA delegates that he has an “intention to increase” the proportion of the EU budget that is spent on agriculture during the remainder of his five-year term.
The Commissioner highlighted how Irish farmers produce 131kg of beef per year per capita, with the next most-productive EU member state being the Netherlands at 25kg per capita.
On milk, he said that Irish farmers produce 1,777kg of milk per year per capita and that there is “no other country above 1,000kg”. He congratulated Irish farmers for this “contribution”.
Farm to Fork
The Commissioner was pushed by IFA leadership on his position on the EU’s environmental policy, as well as its flagship Farm to Fork strategy.
Outlining the impact of the war in Ukraine and the need for food security, IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “The Commission seems hellbent on driving on with the new CAP and the Farm to Fork as if nothing has happened.
“There is no doubt, but that things have changed. Now the Commission needs to change its mind and realise the importance of supporting farmers to do what we do best: produce food.”
Responding, Commissioner Wojciechowski said he fully understands these concerns and noted that there will be a need to continue to “monitor the impact of Farm to Fork for food security”.
He said that “short supply chain is the priority of the Farm to Fork strategy”, but that for Irish farmers and their large exports “it is not possible to have short supply chains”.
He said: “We need food. We need this production.”