Irish Farmers Send Message to EU10 October 2012
IRELAND - Addressing thousands of farmers on Kildare St in Dublin, IFA President John Bryan said the largest turnout of farm families in years sent a clear and determined message to the Government and the EU: a full CAP Budget must be secured that works for active farmers and provides a Rural Development package that supports vulnerable sectors and regions.
Mr Bryan said: “Farmers from every rural parish of Ireland have attended today’s Day of Action to fight for the future of family farming, a sector that supports 300,000 jobs and €9bn in exports. The next two months will see decisions taken in Brussels and by our Government that will have a huge bearing on the ability of the sector to survive and grow. Farming can help deliver recovery and jobs, but only with the right policies and supports.”
The IFA President said the CAP Budget up to 2020 was under serious pressure and farmers expect the Government to hold the line in Europe and ensure that Ireland secures its current allocation of €1.6bn per year.
Mr Bryan said the decision on future CAP funding will be made a meeting of the Heads of Government before Christmas, and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be expected to deliver a full CAP Budget.
He said a bad deal in the upcoming negotiations would undermine the viability of our most productive farmers. “Farm output will drop and the raw material for our ambitious growth plans will not be available if the EU Commission gets its way.”
Mr Bryan said farmers expect the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to toughen his stance in Europe and secure a workable deal for Ireland in the CAP negotiations.
The threat to the EU Budget would also decimate funding for Ireland’s hugely successful Rural Development programmes and would damage vital market support measures.
On the domestic front, Mr Bryan said the Government cannot continue to heap extra cuts and costs on top of farm families. He said previous Budget cuts to farm schemes have been totally disproportionate and have hit low-income farmers very hard. Farm schemes have been unfairly targeted for cuts since 2008, with cuts of over 40% in the agriculture budget, compared to 10% across all Government departments. In last year’s Budget, farm schemes were cut by 17%, compared to a six per cent cut across the entire Agriculture budget and 3.5% across other Government departments.
“Like all other working families, farmers have also had to find the money to pay significantly higher taxes and charges. Today farm families are saying ‘enough is enough’. They are demanding that the Government stops hitting work and productivity and supports indigenous sectors like agriculture that can grow output, exports and jobs. The Government needs to get serious about improving our competitiveness and not damaging it further with extra stealth taxes on vital inputs such as fuel.”
Mr Bryan challenged the Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton to move immediately on the Government commitment to regulate the retailers and restore equity in the food supply chain.
The IFA President thanked farmers for attending the protest, and the vast majority of agri-businesses which supported the Day of Action in a fight for the future of family farming.