Fears are growing for the future of the local suckler industry
Rural pockets of north County Longford will effectively become wastelands unless immediate financial assistance is given to hard-pressed farmers.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has come under sustained scrutiny in recent weeks over claims Ireland's beef sector will cease to exist unless a direct coupled payment of up to €200/cow for all suckler cows is rolled out nationwide.
The Cork North-West Fine Gael TD has, until now, batted away such suggestions, insisting the proposals to be both unworkable and overly burdensome on the Exchequer.
It was a stance which was met with derision at a recent meeting of Longford County Council with several local politicians warning of the likely ramifications facing rural holdings across the county.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Luie McEntire said the minister's reluctance to rubberstamp the payment was only serving to heap additional financial hardship on already cash-strapped farmsteads across the region.
“There are 200,000 live cattle shipped out every year, bringing in €2.5bn,” he said.
“The way things are going at the minute, it (farming) is not sustainable.
“I would know of people who have been farmers for 40 years and they are only just about staying in existence.”
Cllr McEntire said the proposed €200 payment per suckler cow would provide some respite to those just about managing to keep their financial heads above water.
“If the €200 payment doesn't come, what we will be talking about is the demolition of rural Ireland,” he remarked.
“It will absolutely decimate north Longford.”
Fellow Fine Gael Cllr John Browne agreed, describing the outlook as “bleak” for farms throughout the region.
Longford County Council is expected to send a letter to Mr Creed's department calling for the payment to be initiated without delay.
A similar letter, detailing the contents of a joint notice of motion tabled by Cllr McEntire and Cllr Micheal Carrigy will also be distributed to the country's 25 other local authorities seeking their backing on the issue.