The Government plans to take €90 million out of farmers’ pockets in 2014, a move that is “totally unacceptable”, particularly in light of the 18 months of poor weather up to June.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who is demanding that farmers “must not suffer” from next week’s Budget.
His call came following the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney’s, comments to the Dáil Committee on Agriculture that €54 million of savings are being sought from his Department by the Finance Minister Michael Noonan, on top of the €36 million cut in the Single Farm Payment negotiated by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny during EU budget negotiations.
According to Dep Ó Cuív, all this will “take €90 million out of farmers’ pockets in 2014 compared to this year”. He also accused Minister Coveney of being “under the mistaken belief” that the good summer “has made up for the disastrous 18 months of poor weather farmers have suffered”.
Dep Ó Cuív believes that under the Minister’s plans, €25 million less will be paid to farmers in agri-environmental schemes in 2014 compared to 2013 and in total under various headings the proposed savings are €54 million.
As a result, the Connemara based TD is calling on Minister Coveney to negotiate with the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin to ensure the following programmes are put in place to secure agricultural incomes next year:
The introduction of a new Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme covering all suckler cows and not a confined scheme as indicated by the Minister which has very little finance and is targeted only at elite farmers.
A roll over of the REPS scheme for one more year, in view of the fact that the new CAP arrangements will not come into place until 2015, although the Budget cuts on the Single Payment will be in place in 2013.
Immediately allow the 3,000 participants who applied for the AEOS Scheme in 2013 into the AEOS Scheme for 2014.
“Any failure to reverse the cut-backs proposed by the Minister for Public Expenditure against the farming community would be disastrous for agriculture,” said Dep Ó Cuív, “and would inhibit the industry from playing a full part in our economic recovery.”