IFA President Tim Cullinan said that rural Ministers should be looking for more funding for farmers.
“The Fianna Fáil Ministers who were critical of my comments at the weekend about Minister McConalogue’s mart meetings, would be better off going back to him to make the case for more funding for suckler cows, sheep and tillage farmers as well as a proper environment scheme,” he said.
The Minister’s plan will short change farmers in these sectors, in particular.
“He has only allocated €52m per annum for suckler cows, when over €80m will be provided this year. The allocation for sheep is less than the original scheme,” he said.
“As regards the mart meetings, these were not a ‘fair exchange’ as described by one Minister in a tweet. Minister McConalogue spoke and chaired them. He chose the order in which people could ask questions. In some marts, the Minister was the only person with a microphone. He was up on the rostrum, in full control, while farmers were left to shout up from the back benches or from down in the ring itself,” he said.
“There was no formal notice of the meetings, with no overall list of dates published. Each one was announced at short notice in an ad-hoc way. It was only when IFA organised protests at the meetings that significant numbers of farmers turned up,” he said.
“Furthermore, the Minister actually announced his CAP plan in the middle of his supposed ‘consultation’ tour. It was farcical and the only change he made since then was more Eco schemes,” he said.
“The idea that a tour like this is a way to do business is wrong. It would be akin to the Minister for Education deciding that instead of negotiating with teacher unions they would go around to schools ‘consulting’ with teachers and then make their own decision on matters. It wouldn’t be accepted and it would lead to chaos,” he said.
“The reality is that this CAP reform will devastate the incomes of a cohort of our most productive farm families, particularly in the beef, sheep and tillage sectors. The Minister was told this by many genuine farmers at these meetings. However, he chose to ignore them and go ahead with his plan, cheered on by many who should know better,” he said.