IFA President John Bryan has said that unless the Government delivers a strong and robust Rural Development Programme over the next seven years, the viability of thousands of farm families in the most vulnerable sectors and regions will suffer.
Speaking at a meeting with the Fine Gael Agriculture Committee in Dail Eireann today (Thurs), John Bryan said that farmers in many parts of the country are very dependent on Rural Development support such as Environmental and Disadvantaged Areas schemes. “Recent cutbacks have had a severe impact on farmers and the rural economy, and the ball is now firmly in the hands of the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.”
The IFA President said, “As part of IFA’s intensive campaign, Government TDs and Senators have met thousands of farmers with a clear message that co-financing must be at a rate of 50:50, with national top-ups. This is vital to ensure that Rural Development schemes support the rural economy and jobs, while at the same time supporting farm income, whose output is limited by the quality of the land and where farmers can provide environmental public goods”.
John Bryan said that Ireland has secured annual EU funding of €313m to give an EU budget of €2.2bn. “The Government must at least match this funding as it is clear that the spin-off to the rural economy is very significant given that practically all of the funding is spent in the local economy. This is particularly relevant at this time as the economic downturn has hit rural areas very badly and they cannot be left behind in the recovery” he said.
The IFA President said the message has also been delivered to the Taoiseach and other members of the Government. As part of the campaign, John Bryan will meet the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore next Monday.