Speaking at the Executive Council of the Irish Farmers’ Association in Dublin this week, IFA President John Bryan said the clear message from members was that agriculture must be supported by maintaining schemes and reducing costs in the next Budget, if the Government is serious about the Food Harvest 2020 targets.
He said the proposal in the National Recovery Plan to cut 22% from the agriculture budget was far in excess of what other Government Departments were facing, and needs to be addressed urgently by Minister Coveney and the Government.
John Bryan said, “As the Minister for Agriculture examines his Department’s budget as part of the Expenditure Review, he must look at ways of reducing costs in the system to achieve savings. The farm schemes underpin agricultural production, and any reduction would undermine the growth targets contained in Food Harvest 2020.”
He said the recent UCD Study emphasised the economic activity generated by agriculture and the important role that farm schemes play in driving production. “The scale and breadth of the agri sector across the country is testament to the valuable impact it makes to the rural and wider economy. The latest CSO figures show food exports up nearly 20% on the same time last year. If the agri-food sector is to build on this impressive performance to spur our recovery, we must maintain production.”
The IFA President said county chairmen attending today’s meeting were adamant that Minister Coveney must safeguard primary producers. “Easy options have to be avoided. The Minister must find the resources to support primary production and be prepared to seek out savings in the system without impacting on the farm schemes.”
Concluding, he said, “The imposition of additional costs will undo some of the success in restoring competitiveness in our economy. Farming does not need any more charges that would increase the cost of doing business.”