Angry farmers bring protest to doorsteps of two Sligo TDS
MORE THAN 40 angry farmers protested over cutbacks, Monday, outside the Sligo offices of Minister John Perry and Deputy Tony McLoughlin.
Their sentiments were neatly summed up by Kilmactigue sheep farmer Colm O'Donnell, who told Deputy McLoughlin: "We voted for change but the effects of the last two budgets was more than any other."
The farmers pointed out that at a time when the Common Agricultural Policy was being negotiated, they needed support for schemes and payments that were farmers' "bread and butter."
"You need to bring that message back to the Minister and the Taoiseach," they told Deputy McLoughlin, before marching from John Street to Minister Perry's office in Old Market Street.
Farmers handed documents to Deputy McLoughlin showing the impact of cuts on farm incomes.
They pointed out to cuts in the Suckler Cow Scheme, Disadvantaged Area payments, Sheep Grassland Scheme and to the Farm Assist Scheme.
In relation to the Farm Assist Scheme, Leitrim IFA Chairman Pat Gilhooly said: "The children of farmers are being totally disregarded."
Joe Coulter, from Skreen, pointed out that particularly affected were farmers who had no income other than farming.
Referring to the number of farmers who qualified for Farm Assist payments, he said: "They wouldn't have qualified unless their income merited it.
"They were approved and it was found they didn't have a livable income. "Now, what do they do?" He said payments to "big farmers" were not being cut with, Larry Goodman, he claimed, getting "over €1m" in Headage payments.
Mr. Coulter added: "What about the small man trying to educate his children?
"So many grants are being done away with.
"All that money coming into the country for Headage stayed in the country.
"But now, there will be less money gong around."
Tom Clarke, Beltra, pointed out that as well as cuts that were affecting farmers in different ways, there was the increasing costs of meal, diesel and fertiliser.
"All the subsidies are cut to hell," he said, adding that they were "awfully worried" about the single farm payment.
Seamus Cummins, from Hazelwood, feared there was now "no future for any young fellow" in farming.