Local protest at Budget cuts to income by angry farmers
Hundreds of farmers protested outside the constituency office of Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Castlebar, Co Mayo this week. IFA president, John Bryan said farmers who had incurred savage and unfair cuts in the Budget have been making their anger known to Government TDs in a series of protests throughout the country at Government TD’s constituency offices.
IFA President, John Bryan said: “The cuts by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to farm schemes have delivered a hammer blow to all farmers, and especially the low-income livestock sector. Government TDs have a responsibility to their farming constituents, whose work is underpinning jobs and economic activity across rural Ireland”.
Mr Bryan said “We expect the TDs to bring the message back to Minister Coveney, as he is responsible for the unfair targeting of farmers who rely heavily on farm schemes. The double blow of cuts to the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Sheep Grassland Scheme and Farm Assist, in addition to extra taxes, has slashed the incomes of farm families”.
The IFA President said, “The Minister does not appear to understand the pressure farm families are under because of very difficult weather conditions and rising input costs this winter. Yet again, it is the low-income sector that has been singled out for such harsh treatment. Farmers who were expecting support during a difficult year have borne the brunt of the Minister’s cuts”.
On Farm Assist, John Bryan said the decision to remove disregards will see a married farmer with two children lose €2,500 a year. “In many cases, these farmers will also take the hit on the farm schemes, which underlines the disproportionate and unfair nature of what the minister has done.”
Mr Bryan said the Minister’s enthusiasm for Food Harvest 2020 has not been matched by his defence of farm schemes around the Cabinet table, and the cut in the flat-rate VAT refund by 0.4% and the Dairy Discussion Groups are also unjustified. “The cut in direct payments will have a negative knock-on impact on production. Part of the strategy around meeting the expansion targets for the next seven years includes supporting farmers, but hitting them hard on Budget cuts contradicts this strategy.”