11 Dec 2012
FARMERS PROTEST OVER COVENEY’S SAVAGE ATTACK ON INCOMESUncategorized
At a protest led by the IFA Executive Council, and the National Livestock and Rural Development Committees, outside the Department of Agriculture today (Tues) over Budget cuts, IFA President John Bryan accused the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney of inflicting savage cuts on the most vulnerable sector of farming, and failing farmers who rely heavily on farm schemes.
He said, “The Minister showed little regard for the impact that cuts to vital farm schemes would have on drystock farmers. He has reduced the incomes of thousands of farmers as a result of the shutdown of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme and cuts to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Sheep Grassland Scheme and Farm Assist”.
John Bryan said there was deep anger among farmers at the lack of understanding in Government about the need to safeguard low-income farmers, and the drystock sector in particular. “The Minister is well aware the pressure farm families are under because of very difficult weather conditions and rising input costs this year. Yet the slash and burn approach to what are key income supports displays a very narrow focus by the Minister.”
The IFA President said, “Minister Coveney’s cuts have led low-income farmers to question why they have been singled out for such harsh treatment. Farmers who were expecting support during a difficult year have been targeted unfairly by Budget decisions that attacked them disproportionately once again”.
On Farm Assist, John Bryan said the decision to remove disregards will see a married farmer with two children lose €2,500 a year. “In many cases, these farmers will also take the hit on the farm schemes, which underlines the disproportionate and unfair nature of what the Minister has done.”
Mr Bryan said the Minister’s enthusiasm for <i>Food Harvest 2020</i> has not been matched by his defence of farm schemes around the Cabinet table, and the cut to the Dairy Discussion Groups is another retrograde step. “The cut in direct payments will have a negative knock-on impact on production. Part of the strategy around the expansion plans for the next seven years is supporting farmers, but having them bear the brunt of Budget cuts will not achieve this.”
The cuts to farm schemes come on top of the extra taxes and charges that all households, including those of farm families, will have to pay next year.