Farmers in Galway, struggling with poorer quality land, must have access to “worthwhile” schemes and grants in order to “make a reasonable living in the years ahead”.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway East TD Paul Connaughton who said it is “vital for farmers” to have “a worthwhile REPS scheme, a reasonable area-based scheme”, and “a realistic suckler cow grant scheme”. He was commenting on the on-going debate about the funding of the Pillar 2 section of the new CAP Reform programme.
Dep Connaughton said there is always “a tug-of-war” between the EU and the Government about the various levels of grant aid and who should pay what.
“However, there is one inescapable fact that a hundred acre farm in Galway is unlikely to be as productive as a similar holding in the Golden Vale in counties such as Cork, Limerick and Tipperary,” he said.
One of the principles of the EU Common Agricultural Policy when Ireland joined in the seventies was that there would be recognition that not all acres of land in Ireland are of equal farming value. This is why parts of the State were designated ‘severely handicapped’ and the special Disadvantaged Area Payments were introduced.
Dep Connaughton said the next five to seven years will see “great expansion” in Irish agriculture, but it should not see farmers “ in the poorer land areas” left behind.
“Now is the time to put the necessary plans in place,” he said. Dep Connaughton said he will bring this issue to the attention of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Agriculture, and the Minister for Public Service Reform “at every opportunity”.