Matt Carthy .
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has said that this week’s publication of 2016 direct farm payments exposes the vast inequalities in CAP that are scandalous considering the difficulties many farmers have in making ends meet.
Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee said:
“It is scandalous and immoral that 240 farm businesses are receiving payments in excess of €100,000 when the average payment is actually €17,932 and many farmers are receiving much less. In fact it appears that, despite the government opting for a 100% reduction in CAP payment amounts exceeding €150,000, there is still a sizeable amount of farmers receiving payments over €200,000.
“This seems to show a complete disregard by the Fine Gael government to implement policies to bring equality to the system. Degressivity (capping) policies chosen by the Government in the 2013 reforms are either not being implemented or are being wilfully disregarded.
“As if news of further market concentration in the meat processing sector brought about by the proposed Dawn Meats - Dunbia merger wasn’t worrying enough for small farmers, it has now emerged that the owners of these plants pocket €225,165 in annual agricultural subsides.
“When the CAP was set up in 1962 its stated objective was to ensure a stable supply of affordable food for consumers, while ensuring fair compensation for farmers. But, at its core, is an inequality that must be addressed. Some farmers are forced to cling on through meagre payments, while Larry Goodman takes home €430,000 in direct payments.
“€430,000 is not a subsidy. It’s the concentration of wealth in the hands of those already controlling the market and prices other farmers receive. It’s the further consolidation of power for price givers and a kick in the teeth for those receiving the Irish average payment of €17,932.
“If anyone was in any doubt about Fine Gael’s lack of commitment towards ordinary farm families, those doubts will be fully dispelled with these latest figures.
“In the first instance Minister Creed must immediately explain how these recipients receiving over €200,000, including windfarms, meat processors and grain companies, have avoided capped payments.
“In the time ahead Irish political voices in the Dáil and in the European Parliament need to work together to ensure greater equality within the CAP payment system. All Irish farm organisations must also demand fairness, which would clearly be in the best interests of the majority of their members, in payments. The very future of the Irish family farm model depends on it.”