Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Éamon Ó Cuív has tabled a Dáil motion calling on the Government to reverse its cuts to the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (DAS) and to tackle rising diesel prices.    
 
The motion will be debated in the Dáil over the next two days, as thousands of farmers from Galway and across the country attend a major protest outside Government buildings.
 
Deputy Ó Cuív has raised serious concerns about a lack of leadership from the government in protecting jobs in the farming and agri-food sectors.
 
“We need clear and decisive action from the Government to support the agriculture sector, which is the engine of the economy here in Galway and across the West of Ireland.  There are 300,000 jobs in the agri-food industry alone and it contributes €24 billion to the economy,” the Galway TD said.
 
“I am concerned about the lack of leadership from the Government in addressing the serious issues facing farmers and food producers. Small farmers in Galway have had a particularly difficult year and they are facing more difficulties after the Agriculture Minsiter Simon Coveney scaled back the AEOS and made changes to the minimum stocking density required under the DAS.  
 
“In the Dáil this week, Fine Gael and Labour have an opportunity to show their commitment to farmers and food-producers. I have tabled a motion calling on the Government to recognise that the crucial role of agriculture sector in job creation and economic growth here in Galway and across the country.  
 
“The motion calls on the Government to stop scaling back farm payments.  I want the Agriculture Minister to expand the new AEOS to 8,000 places and restore the original maximum payment of €5,000.  The Minister must also reverse changes he introduced to the minimum stocking density ratio under the DAS.  I also want a clear commitment from the Minister that the suckler cow welfare scheme and the sheep grassland scheme will operate in 2013 and 2014.
 
In addition to this, I am seeking decisive action from the Government to tackle rising diesel prices and to introduce an effective user rebate scheme that will alleviate the rising financial pressure on farmers and agriculture contractors.
 
“I am urging the Fine Gael and Labour deputies across Galway to show their commitment to local farmers by supporting this motion in the Dáil this week,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.