ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin has reacted angrily to reports of a renewed threat to vital farm schemes, such as the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) and the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS), as a result of the deliberations of the Central Expenditure and Evaluation Unit (CEEU), which reports to the Minister for Public Sector Reform.
"The ongoing uncertainty and possibility of further attacks on schemes which have already been cut is doing untold damage to the confidence of the one sector that is consistently growing exports. The reality is that the closing of REPS, the two cuts to the DAS and the halving of the SCWS rate means that many farmers, particularly low-income ones in the cattle and sheep sectors, are very vulnerable," Mr Gilmartin said.
"Any further cuts could completely devastate the potential for expansion in the suckler herd or sheep flock. There certainly won't be any expansion in beef exports as envisaged in the Food Harvest report if we continue to slash and burn the productive basis for quality beef," he added.
He also pointed out that the DAS was co-funded by the EU and that it made no sense to forego these monies.
"Equally important, we should not be decimating farm programmes given that there is a reform of the CAP under way and we need to make a credible case for further EU funding," he concluded.