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Benefits of the CAP
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Small child with selection of vegetablesA CAP was first established in the early 1960s to provide subsidies and systems guaranteeing fair prices to European farmers and encourage them to produce more.

The CAP was largely successful but in its early days surplus production led to oversupply and the creation of so-called ‘butter mountains’ and ‘milk lakes’.

However, the CAP was modified and improved over the following decades with the introduction of production limits to help reduce surpluses, incentives to encourage environmentally sound farming and a rural development policy to help manage natural resources and promote economic growth in rural communities.

A significant portion of the EU budget is spent on agriculture but that’s because the CAP is the only policy almost entirely financed from EU funds.

It provides good value for money for citizens and taxpayers because EU spending replaces or subsidises, to a large extent, national spending.

The money is more of an investment today than it was in the past as over the years successive reforms of the CAP have seen financial support moved away from incentives for production to direct income support for farmers, provided they respect strict safety, health and environmental standards, and for projects that stimulate economic activity in rural areas.

With little room left for expanding agricultural land in Europe, productivity growth in the future has to come through innovation and research and the newly reformed CAP can help Irish farmers embrace new production methods so this traditional industry can meet the challenges of today’s modern world.

These new challenges include food security. Experts estimate that food production will have to double in order to feed a world population of nine billion people in 2050.

However, this has to be done in a sustainable way, as climate change has presented the additional challenges of carefully managing natural resources and protecting the countryside to ensure rural economies in Ireland and right across the EU survive well into the future.

And the CAP is designed to do just that.

CAP budget


Here are some of the important issues the CAP addresses:


It’s easy to take food for granted in modern Ireland. Thankfully, we don’t experience food shortages here. However, throughout the world issues like climate change, oil shortages and the availability of quality land and water are challenging the planet's capacity to produce enough food for everyone.

The CAP is designed to ensure food security so all Irish and European citizens can have access to a constant, reliable supply of affordable food.


The CAP also helps guarantee that Europe’s consumers get food that’s safe and wholesome. There are tough EU rules on the safety of food and animal feed and consumers can easily determine where the food they purchase has come from and what it contains.

EU rules also guarantee that organic farming products are genuine, while the CAP offers specific encouragement for farmers to convert to organic farming as well as incentives to improve the quality of their produce.

Organic farmers and food producers are encouraged to use the EU organic logo where at least 95% of the product’s ingredients have been organically produced and it complies with the rules of an official inspection scheme.


The CAP’s rural development programmes are aimed at improving the economic and social situation of rural areas.

Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 has a proposed budget of around €4 billion, co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF) and the national Exchequer.


Under EU rules farmers must respect environmental laws and look after their land in a sustainable way if they want to qualify for direct income payments – an important aspect of the CAP. Financial aid from the CAP is targeted at rural development measures that promote environmentally sustainable farming practices, like agri-environment schemes.


The agri-food sector is one of Ireland's most important industries, supporting up to 170,000 jobs. The agri-food and drink industry is worth 7.1% of Ireland’s economy, 11% of our exports and 8.6% of total employment.

In 2013, Irish agri-food and drink exports increased by an estimated 9% to approximately €9.9 billion. Food and drink exports increased by 40 per cent from 2009 to 2013, with 42% of Irish exports going to the UK, 32% to the EU and 26% worldwide.

Last update: 23/05/2014  |Top