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CAP-Good for Farmers, Food and You!

What does 'CAP' mean?

'CAP' stands for the Common Agricultural Policy

What is CAP?

The CAP is a common EU policy that helps to support European farmers in providing guaranteed access to safe, quality, traceable and sustainably produced food for over 500 million European consumers.

Why do we need CAP?

Agriculture is a sector which is supported almost exclusively at European level, unlike most other sectors, which are governed by national policies. It is important to have a public policy for a sector that is responsible for ensuring our food safety and which plays a key role in the use of natural resources and the economic development of rural areas. A collective EU policy sharing the same core principles also makes for better use of budgetary resources than would the coexistence of national policies.

Principles of CAP:

These three areas are closely interrelated and must be managed coherently. This makes it easier to modernise farms while encouraging diversification of activities in rural areas with better budget spend and outcomes.

How much does CAP cost?

The CAP costs each EU citizen around 30 eurocents a day, equating to less than 1% of all public expenditure.

As a taxpayer who is not a farmer, can I benefit from the CAP?

You already do! When the EU helps its farmers, society as a whole benefits. In return for the small contribution each tax payer makes, the CAP guarantees the European public a dependable and plentiful supply of high-quality food, as well as a healthy environment and exceptional landscapes.

Who oversees the CAP budget?

The day-to-day running of the CAP is the responsibility of the member countries, however, the budget itself is decided every year by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. To keep long-term spending under control, they work within a 'multi-annual financial framework' (MFF). Within this, a maximum ceiling for the 1st pillar of the CAP (direct-payments and market-support measures) is imposed. In addition, rural development measures come under the 2nd pillar of the CAP.

The current multi-annual financial framework for the EU budget fixes ceilings for EU agricultural spending up to 2020. Over the next 7 years (2014-2020), the CAP will invest almost €11 billion in the Irish farming sector and rural areas.

A review of the MFF is due to commence in 2016 with a view to its completion by 2017. The 2016 review will inevitably feed into negotiations for a revised MFF from 2020 onwards.

What's the point of direct payments?

Direct payments help ensure that farming can be maintained throughout the EU by providing a steady income for farmers. In this way, they support the long-term viability of farms and cushion them against price fluctuations.

Moreover, all direct aid is paid to farmers subject to the condition that they keep to strict standards pertaining to the environment, food safety, plant and animal health and animal welfare, and generally keep their land in good productive condition. This is called cross-compliance. If these rules are not complied with, payments may be suspended and the farmer might face penalties.

What is rural development?

In the context of CAP, rural development seeks to safeguard the viability of the countryside by supporting programmes to invest, modernise and support activity - both agricultural and non-agricultural - in rural areas, based on six prorities:

What is 'Leader'?

'Leader' is a programme to strengthen the rural economy by encouraging local people to take action at the local level (bottom-up) rather than imposing off-the-shelf action on them (top-down). Under today's rules, EU countries must spend at least 5% of their rural development budget on 'Leader' projects.

The benefits of CAP:


CAP provides support for the continuation of the family farm structure, maintaining farming and economic activity across Ireland through direct payment methods. In this way, they support the long-term viability of Irish farms and helps cushion them against price fluctuations.

The Irish model for redistribution of direct payments is designed to ensure that the direct payments system is made fairer and more equitable while at the same time ensuring that the level of redistribution of payments between farmers is not of a scale that could jeopardise the achievement of growth objectives. It ensures that future generations will continue to farm the land in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Basically, the CAP secures the future of agriculture, farming and food for everyone!


Through the introduction of Greening as part of the new reformed CAP Direct Payments Scheme and the agri-environmental scheme, CAP aids in the preservation of our beautiful green countryside and landscapes in Ireland. Thirty percent of Direct Payments are allocated to Greening and the partial funding of GLAS means that increased agricultural production does not hinder water quality or wildlife and aids in climate control.

Rural communities

There are many different secondary and tertiary forms of employment which are derived from farming. Did you know that one-in-seven jobs in Ireland are agri-food related? Without CAP funding much of this employment would exist. Through the Young Farmers Scheme, young people are staying put and farming the land the came from. This scheme will lead to the creation of well-educated and well-informed, motivated young farmers for the future.


CAP is designed to ensure food security, so that all Irish and EU citizens have access to a constant, reliable supply of safe and affordable food. Since the introduction of CAP in 1962, the average consumer spends 50% less on food than they did back then.

For more information on CAP from the European Commission please Click Here

Detailed information on the reformed CAP