Call to protect farmers from Budget cuts

IFA submission to Government says sector has been targeted disproportionately

Tom Doyle, farm business chairman, John Bryan, president, Flor McCarthy, rural development chairman, and Pat Smith, general secretary, at the launch of the Irish Farmers Association pre-Budget submission in Dublin today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Tom Doyle, farm business chairman, John Bryan, president, Flor McCarthy, rural development chairman, and Pat Smith, general secretary, at the launch of the Irish Farmers Association pre-Budget submission in Dublin today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 13:54

ALISON HEALY, Food and Farming Correspondent

The Irish Farmers Association has urged that funding for farm schemes is not cut in October’s Budget, saying the farming sector has suffered disproportionate cuts in recent budgets.

IFA president John Bryan said the Department of Agriculture had its budget cut by 13 per cent since 2011 compared with a average five per cent cut for all Government departments. And within the Department of Agriculture, farm schemes bore the brunt of those cuts. He said total spending on farm schemes and grants fell by 18 per cent over that period.

“I am very concerned about recent statements from the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, in which he suggested more budget cuts this year,” he said.

“The Minister needs to fight for the retention of existing exchequer funding for farm schemes, and ensure that new EU money available is retained in full for the farming sector”.

He was speaking as the farm organisation launched its pre-Budget submission.

Mr Bryan noted that an extra €100 million a year would be available under the EU’s proposed rural development programme next year and he urged that it be spent on the farming sector and not diverted to other parts of Department of Agriculture’s budget.

He said the the agri-food industry had kept its head above water and made a significant contribution to economic growth during the recession.

“ Despite a difficult economic environment in our main export markets, agri-food export growth has continued into 2013, with an increase in value of over six per cent in the first five months of the year.

In addition, figures for early 2013 indicate a significant rise in employment numbers in the agriculture sector,” Mr Bryan said.