Hundreds of Longford farmers were among a 20,000 strong contingent who protested outside Dáil Eireann last week at the ‘day of action’ to highlight grievances over proposed CAP reform.
Addressing the thousands of farmers on Kildare Street, IFA President John Bryan said that it was the largest turnout of farm families in years and the protest sent a clear and determined message to the Government and the EU, that, “a full CAP Budget must be secured that works for active farmers and provides a Rural Development package that supports vulnerable sectors and regions.”
Mr Bryan went on to say that farmers from every rural parish of Ireland had attended the event which highlighted a determination by them “to fight for the future of family farming, a sector that supports 300,000 jobs and $9bn in exports.”
“The next two months will see decisions taken in Brussels and by our Government that will have a huge bearing on the ability of the sector to survive and grow,” the IFA president added. “Farming can help deliver recovery and jobs, but only with the right policies and supports.
“The CAP Budget up to 2020 is under serious pressure and farmers expect the Government to hold the line in Europe and ensure that Ireland secures its current allocation of $1.6bn per year.”
Mr Bryan also pointed out that “a bad deal” in the upcoming negotiations would undermine the viability of the country’s most productive farmers. “Farm output will drop and the raw material for our ambitious growth plans will not be available if the EU Commission gets its way,” he continued. “Farmers expect the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD to toughen his stance in Europe and secure a workable deal for Ireland in the CAP negotiations.
“The Irish Government cannot continue to heap extra cuts and costs on top of farm families and the previous Budget cuts to farm schemes have been totally disproportionate, hitting low-income farmers very hard. Farm schemes have been unfairly targeted for cuts since 2008, with cuts of over 40 percent in the agriculture budget, compared to ten percent across all Government departments and in last year’s Budget, farm schemes were cut by 17 percent, compared to a six percent cut across the entire Agriculture budget compared to 3.5 percent across other Government departments.”
In conclusion, the IFA chief added, “Like all other working families, farmers have also had to find the money to pay significantly higher taxes and charges. Today farm families are saying ‘enough is enough’. They are demanding that the Government stops hitting work and productivity and supports indigenous sectors like agriculture that can grow output, exports and jobs. The Government needs to get serious about improving our competitiveness and not damaging it further with extra stealth taxes on vital inputs such as fuel.”