Responding to ‘reality check’ comments by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney at the launch of IFA’s pre-Budget submission, IFA President John Bryan said that the Minister would be turning his back on agriculture if he accepts the cuts that are proposed for the sector in the upcoming budget.
He said, “Farmers cannot accept Minister Coveney caving in to disproportionate cuts on agriculture, which would mean farm families being hit on the double with cuts on the one hand, and taxes and levies on the other.”
Mr Bryan said, “Savings must be found in the public finances, but the ‘reality’ is the cuts proposed for the Agriculture Budget are far in excess of those proposed for any other Government Department. It would be totally unacceptable if the Minister is willing to find these savings by directly hitting farm incomes through cuts to farm schemes.”
He continued, “There are significant savings available in the agriculture budget for next year. The Minister must lay it on the line to his Cabinet colleagues and tell them that there is a limit to the savings that the sector can reasonably find.”
The IFA President said if there is any ‘reality check’ that needs to be delivered, it is the fact that any cuts in vital farm schemes and restructuring reliefs will damage agricultural activity, the rural economy and our economic recovery.
Mr Bryan said, “Farmers have already been hit in previous budgets through cuts to farm schemes, including the Disadvantaged Areas, Suckler Cow Scheme, the closure of REPS, a reduction in the forestry premium and suspension of the Early Retirement and Installation Aid schemes. Each of these cuts has directly impacted on their incomes, which, at less than €18,000 in 2010 are half of the average Industrial wage.”
“Farmers expect the Minister to defend the pivotal role that farm schemes play in maintaining primary production and economic activity in rural Ireland. It is the Minister’s job to defend the sector at the Cabinet table,” he concluded.