Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív, has heavily criticised the Minister for Agriculture for overseeing a blatant attempt to cut payments under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS).
Farmers throughout the country,who have struggled with low stock levels, have begun to receive letters from the Department outlining that unless they are answered by next Friday (24th of August), the DAS payments for 2012 may be lost.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “The Minister needs to immediately scrap any changes to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS). In light of the terrible summer we have had, farmers have already taken huge hits to their finances, they cannot afford to take any more cuts to their income.
“It is scandalous that retrospective constraints are being enforced in the worst weather year in many years. It is clear that the Minister has no understanding of farming matters, particularly in the West and that he is not interested in same.
“The Minister should cancel this whole procedure and revert to the stocking levels of 2011. It is also ridiculous to be writing to farmers now and to be giving them just over a week to reply.
“Farmers can appeal the decision to the Department in some circumstances but the changes need to be scraped because of the awful weather farmers have had. At least 12,000 farmers will not meet the new criteria and have only a week left to appeal this.
“If implemented, these changes will badly affect farmers who actually farm the poorest land in the country and it will serve to drive them off the land.
“Smaller farmers stand to lose as much as €3,000 under these plans and they will be prevented from purchasing stock, given the importance of the payment. Surely the Minister knows what a perilous position many farmers are in, a little respite with this payment could serve to keep a lot of these farmers in business.”