Tractor protest in 28 towns to oppose cuts in agriculture


THOUSANDS OF tractors will be driven through 28 towns in the State next Monday in a “tractorcade” protest organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA)against Government cutbacks

IFA president Pádraig Walshe said the tractorcades were to highlight Government cuts and the devastating impact collapsing farm incomes were having on farm families and the rural economy.

“Almost every town throughout rural Ireland is dependent on agriculture and the income collapse will lead to significant downturn in business across the rural economy. The Government must take immediate action to address this issue,” he said.

Because of a combination of poor farm market prices, a disastrous and costly wet summer and repeated draconian Government cuts on vital farm schemes, farm incomes were expected to fall by 25 per cent in 2009.

“This combined with a reduction of 13 per cent in 2008 means that farm incomes will have fallen by over 35 per cent in the last two years,” he said.

The IFA president pointed out that agriculture was vital to the rural economy of all counties as it was the largest indigenous industry in Ireland.

Mr Walshe said the tractorcade was further evidence of farmers’ anger against repeated Government cuts. His members, he said, were now facing into a winter of cash shortages while trying to provide for their families and keep their businesses afloat.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture yesterday said milk output was 9 per cent under quota at the end of August, a historic low for the time of year.

It reported the figure based on estimated milk deliveries submitted by milk purchasers for the period up to August 31st.

A combination of poor weather and low prices has meant many herds produced less than expected and farmers took cows out of production or fed the milk to calves.

A group of farmers in the midlands has threatened to withhold milk rather than supply to processors at current prices.

The group, which claims to have more than 100 members, will hold an open meeting in the County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co Offaly, tomorrow night.

Secretary of the group Richard Friday said the aim was to get a baseline price for milk and if this could not be achieved, then milk would be withheld.