Harsh farming cuts result in meagre revenue return – Ó Domhnaill

Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad spokesperson on Agriculture & Food Brian Ó Domhnaill says farmers in Donegal are losing out because of a lack of joined up thinking between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Social Protection. Changes made to a number of schemes are acting as a disincentive for farmers and fishermen to increase production and could have an impact on our Food Harvest 2020 targets.

“The changes that Minister Burton has made to the Farm Assist Scheme and the Rural Social Scheme have effectively abolished any incentives for farmers and fishermen to increase production in line with the Food Harvest 2020 guidelines. The Minister has decided to means test the Farm Assist payment, which has resulted in the elimination of any incentive to improve farm income. I believe this measure, which has recouped a mere €3.75m in savings last year, is in contravention of Food Harvest 2020”, commented Senator Ó Domhnaill.

“It’s obvious that there has been no consultation between the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Agriculture about the changes made to the Farm Assist Scheme as it would appear that Minister Burton is unaware of the impact these measures will have on the Food Harvest 2020 targets.

“Minister Burton has also pressed ahead with changes to the Rural Social Scheme, which sees the State claw back any extra income that farmers or fishermen earn as a result of developing or expanding their business. These measures only serve to discourage farmers and fishermen from improving their farms or increasing their production. Despite the damaging impact this change has had on the farming and fishing community, it has resulted in a paltry saving of €10,000 since it was introduced in September 2012.

“These changes are another example of a Dublin based Minister implementing rash measures without consulting with the people affected, or taking the impact of these changes on them into account. Rural Ireland, and Donegal in particular, has suffered dearly at the hands of this Government. LEADER funding has been slashed, supports have been cut and prices for produce are plummeting, while at the same time operating costs are increasing. Ministers should be coming with proposals to support and develop the industry, not attack those within it.

“I’m urging Minister Coveney to meet with Minister Burton and discuss these issues in a holistic manner and to encourage a higher level of joined-up thinking between their two departments”, Senator Ó Domhnaill concluded.

Posted: May 21, 2014     |     Categories: Uncategorized