The Minister for Agriculture has informed the Dáil Committee on Agriculture that €54 million of savings are being sought from his Department by the Minister for Finance on top of the €36 million cut in the Single Farm Payment negotiated by the Taoiseach during EU budget negotiations.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, says the present Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is the first such agreement that reduces the amount of money being paid into the scheme.
“What is proposed at present is to take €90 million out of farmers’ pockets in 2014 compared to this year,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.
“This is totally unacceptable. I call on the Minister for Agriculture to stand up for the agricultural industry, which is one of the major contributors to economic recovery in our country, particularly in light of the 18 months of very poor weather that only ended in June 2013. It would appear that Minister Coveney is under the mistaken belief that the good summer has made up for the disastrous 18 months of poor weather farmers have suffered.
“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. I am now calling on the Minister for Agriculture to negotiate with the Minister for Public Expenditure and ensure that the following programmes are put in place to secure agricultural incomes next year.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 Labour Minister for Public Expenditure against the farming community would be disastrous for agriculture and would inhibit the industry from playing a full part in our economic recovery. We also need to ensure that farmers’ incomes are maintained in 2014, taking into account the very significant fall in the Single farm Payment
“Furthermore, Minister Coveney must look at the overheads in his Department and its agencies and make savings to ensure that as much money as possible is spent on farmers.”