Charlie McConalogue TD, Fianna's Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food & the Marine.
Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Longford - Westmeath Cllr Joe Flaherty says the Government needs to seriously up its efforts to support farmers in the months ahead.
Cllr Flaherty made the comments ahead of the opening of the 84th County Longford Ploughing Championships in Carrickedmond this Sunday. The Lanesboro born Co Councillor will be accompanied to this year's event by Charlie McConalogue TD, Fianna's Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food & the Marine.
Cllr Flaherty said, “Farmers are facing a number of significant challenges in the years ahead, especially in the context of Brexit. The sector is going through rapid change due to technological advancements and now the market could be on the verge of being turned on its head entirely as a result of Brexit. Farmers are anxious and the Government needs to provide strong support to get them through the challenges that the face.
“Fianna Fáil has put forward a number of proposals in the Dáil to help farmers. Just last month we received unanimous support for our motion to secure better supports for suckler farmers. We want to see a €200 payment policy per suckler cow in a bid to provide essential support to the sector and the rural communities which rely on it. The suckler sector provides a livelihood for around 70,000 farm families across the country and it underpins our €2.5bn beef export sector. It’s important that the Government gives the sector the full support it needs to get through this challenging time.
“Extreme weather conditions have also had a profound impact on farmers and we have pushed for a rethink of the Fodder Support Scheme following Storm Emma. The existing fund is extremely limited and we are pushing for the Government to revise its current position and expand that scheme to include meal vouchers and other payments. Many farmers were already struggling to cope in the face of high fodder prices and they will be put to the pin of their collar as they continue to deal with the fallout from extreme weather events.
“Fianna Fáil is also resisting any efforts to cut the CAP budget. CAP is the backbone of Irish farming, with payments to Ireland making up around 75% of total farm income. Any reduction in this budget could prove catastrophic for the Irish agri-sector. It’s something that we simply will not tolerate.
“I’m a firm believer that there is a strong future in Irish farming, and we need to do all we can to encourage young people into the sector. The Government needs to play its part by standing by farmers in their time of need,” concluded Cllr Flaherty.