Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Mayo Cllr. Lisa Chambers says this Government has isolated younger farmers through a series of cuts and bureaucratic measures.  Only this week, hundreds of farmers across Mayo learned that their applications for GLAS funding were not successful because the Minister has effectively excluded certain farmers from the scheme.

Cllr. Chambers explained, “It is no secret that Fine Gael and Labour have taken a very anti-rural, anti farming position.  Not only have they changed or narrowed the criteria for certain farm schemes, they have also increased the amount of red tape that small family farmers have to deal with.  This means more paper work, more expense and less time spent carrying out the bread and butter work that keeps a small farm running.

“Family farmers have been hardest hit by this Government, which has chosen to reward big business interests.  The decision to exclude Tier 3 farmers from the latest round of GLAS applications is a prime example of this Ministers failure to understand the challenges facing small farmers.  These payments are essential for lower income farmers as they make up a significant chunk of total farm income, but this Government’s flawed policies is making it more difficult for these farmers to qualify for essential schemes.

“Similarly, there have been no incentives to retain younger farmers.  Agriculture and farming is one of our most important industries, both from an indigenous and export perspective.  The ageing population amongst the farming community is a concern and we need to encourage more young people into the sector.  I know a number of farming families who are worried about the future of their farms because their children do not want to take over.  We need to remove some of the barriers for young people and actively encourage them to consider agriculture as a career.

“Unless more is done to support younger family farmers, we will be plunged into a crisis in one of our biggest sectors.  Fianna Fáil will restore Farm Assist and increase the number of places on the Rural Social Scheme by 2,500 on a phased basis.

“Fianna Fáil wants to ensure that family farmers are given a fair deal and we will take action to ensure that they can earn a decent living”.