The IFA are a formidable lobby group who can be relied upon to rally in significant numbers when a major issue arises.
One such concern is the forthcoming review of payments to farmers who operate within ANC’s – Areas of Natural Constraint.
Previously known as ‘disadvantaged areas’, these payments represent a vital revenue stream to landowners and under the current regime, €205 million is distributed to 95,000 Irish farmers.
There was an understandable ‘what we have we hold’ message from the IFA at last Friday night’s public meeting in Corrin Event Centre, Fermoy. Among those at the top table were: Gerry Gunning, Pat Dunne, Joe Brady, John Coughlan and National President Joe Healy.
Public representatives in attendance included Kevin O’Keeffe TD and Deirdre Clune MEP.
The meeting was told that this is the first review in over 40 years and there was no certainty that all elements of this scheme would be retained. Joe Healy said that he fully understood the financial importance of ANC monies to farmers and he pledged to campaign vigourously to protect existing areas, restore payments to pre-2008 levels and ensure long-term financing of the project that was established to assist those who farm marginal land.
Local IFA delegates were out in force and the feeling from the floor was that as much pressure as possible should be brought to bear on TDs and MEPs with a view to maintaining current benefits.