Budget 2013: Low income farmers hit
You could be forgiven for emerging from the Budget briefing in Agriculture House last week with the impression that agriculture was a real winner this year.
For example, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney told the assembled journalists that he was "putting almost as much money into the suckler as before" – the before referring to the €25m that was allocated to the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme last year.
However, the fact €25m is being ear-marked for the suckler sector again in 2013 neatly side-steps the fact that €10m of this is money that will be owed to farmers participating in this year's suckler cow scheme.
The reality is that somewhere between €86m and €89m is being sliced off next year's spending in agriculture.
Again, this was presented as something of a victory for Mr Coveney and his team, since he was originally tasked by the Department of Finance to find savings of €114m.
And yet again the detail presents a less rosey version. Part of the 'savings' will be accounted for by kicking €25m or approximately 14pc of REPS payments due to farmers this year into 2014.
Mr Coveney was also keen to stress how much he's doing for smaller, more vulnerable farmers on more marginal land. "Some people have accused me of not looking after the smaller farmer. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said emphatically.
The €12m of cuts to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme and the €15m hit to the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (now to be called the Beef Data Programme) have certainly been designed to target the larger farmers involved.