Question to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Mr. Simon Coveney, TD) 

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the subsidies available to tobacco growers under the Common Agricultural Policy; his plans to alter these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on Tuesday, 31 March 2015.

REPLY

Tobacco is grown in 12 countries in the EU. The main producers are Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain and Poland. These countries account for 85% of the EU tobacco growing. Tobacco cultivation represents 100,000 hectares along with 60,000 specialist producers for this sector. The EU produces up to 200,000 tonnes of dried tobacco leaves per year which is less than 3% of the global yearly raw tobacco production, and imports some 400,000 tonnes a year, mainly from Africa and America. The EU exports up to 100,000 tonnes a year.

In April 2004 the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers decided to reform the raw tobacco sector along the same principles as the CAP reform of June 2003. The system of production quotas was abolished and financial support was decoupled from production. EU Member States covered by the tobacco regime were given a transition period to adjust between 2006 and 2009. During this period, these Member States could either completely break (decoupling) the link between production and the financial link provided to the tobacco sector or continue to link part of the provided aid to production. Decoupling aid from production allows producers to grow other crops if they wish while maintaining incomes.

Since 1st January 2010 the EU has not granted any specific subsidies for raw tobacco production with 50% of the previous tobacco aid incorporated in to the direct payment system and the other 50% went into the EU’s Rural Development Programmes, particularly in tobacco growing regions. The tobacco crop is now treated along with other crops for example cereals under the Single Payment Scheme of the Common Agriculture Policy.