Wednesday 28 September 2016

MEP calls for equal distribution of emergency farm aid

Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30

Farmers Brian Kileen (right) and Martin McMahon, ICMSA on flooded land at Clonlara, Co Clare. Photo: Arthur Carron
Farmers Brian Kileen (right) and Martin McMahon, ICMSA on flooded land at Clonlara, Co Clare. Photo: Arthur Carron

A flat-rate payment of €1,350 to dairy farmers raises questions over why extra top-ups were not considered for the struggling livestock or tillage farmers, an MEP said.

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Marian Harkin has raised questions over the influence of dairy farmers in the EU compared with that of beef and sheep producers.

Her comments came as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney signed off on a deal matching the €13.7m in EU emergency aid for Irish dairy and pig farmers with an equal amount of state aid.

It means €1,350 will be provided to individual dairy farmers, with young dairy farmers receiving a €800 top-up.

The distribution of the €1m set aside for the pig sector has yet to be decided on.

"Nobody can begrudge the payment to Ireland's 18,000 dairy farmers but other livestock producers who number over 100,000 must wonder what it takes to have their low incomes better recognised in national and EU policies," said Ms Harkin.

ICSA president Patrick Kent said he was sympathetic to the plight of dairy and pig farmers but in the main cattle and sheep farmers are worse off.

"Using scarce national funds in this manner is questionable and at the very least we must be informed of the source of this money," he said.

"If beef farmers have a bad year next year, which unfortunately is looking likely, can we expect the same assistance?"

Mr Kent also questioned how low cattle and sheep farmers' incomes would have to go to get a similar support package to the dairy and pig sectors.

"Last year when beef farmers were in crisis we got a Beef Forum with no financial support." he said.

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