Тhe Rural Affairs Minister of Malta George Pullicino is “optimistic” that Malta will not face the drastic cut in funds proposed under the revision of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
“Discussions about the CAP reform are ongoing and we can’t yet say whether there will be an increase or a decrease in the allocated funds,” he said.
A clearer picture of the reform is expected by October reported Times of Malta Times of Malta.
Malta is at loggerheads with the European Commission over the CAP proposals and has threatened not to support any changes to the EU budget if Brussels does not consider its specific needs.
Brussels is proposing redistributing direct aid to farmers across the 27 member states, based on land surface area.
This means some member states will suffer cuts while others will see their financial allocation grow. In Malta’s case, the formula can only mean cuts.
Foreign Affairs Ministry director general Joseph Cole said that if the proposals were not revised, Malta’s farming community would be the worst affected in the EU.
Maltese farmers cultivate small portions of land compared to others in bigger member states and the proposed exercise means the island will suffer a seven per cent cut in direct payment allocation in the 2014-2020 period.
Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino said he had insisted on the country’s characteristics with Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos and the Commissioner for Climate Change, Connie Hedegaard, who visited Malta this week.
“I have no doubt that, with our arguments, we would be able to sustain a good package for our farmers but it’s premature to say what the package would consist of,” he said.
He said that economic difficulties affecting Europe would probably lead to a cut in the funds allocated to the EU’s agricultural sector.
Mr Pullicino was speaking at Sherries Garden Centre in Burmarrad, which recently invested in a €350,000 project, partly funded by the EU, that included the installation of 92 solar panels and a water reservoir.
Mr Pullicino said rural development aid, which injected €80 million in the Maltese agricultural sector since 2007, did not revolve just around farming.