Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

An open letter to the IFA national executive on single farm payment

It is with regret that we feel compelled to write this open letter on the need for a fairer distribution of the single farm payment (SFP). This requirement to go public comes as a result of the IFA's continued insistence on minimising any redistribution of the SFP.

In doing so, they have portrayed the image of a united farming organisation, fighting the cause of farmers.

This is not the case. Many farmers inside the organisation have become totally disillusioned with where the national executive is going on this.

By writing this letter we hope that it will give courage to the majority of other farmers, to come out and call the stance taken by the IFA national executive for what it is – a very bad deal for the majority of Irish farmers.

The mantra that we have heard over the last few months is that Pillar 1 is about supporting active and productive farmers. This we agree with, but these farmers need to be active and productive now, not 10 years ago.

Indeed, when one looks at the document the IFA executive put to defend their position it is very obvious how desperate they have become. The farmer they always refer to is the 30 suckler cow farmer. They claim that he would see his payments drop from over €16,500 to €12,011 under the latest proposals.

However, when you consider the premium paid on suckler cows during the reference years of 2000 to 2002, the most this man could expect to get in premium was €10,000. Yet under these proposals that the IFA executive is so against, he will get €12,000.

This is also true on the examples given on the dairy farms, and what about the other 30 suckler cow farmer with a payment of €3,900 who would see his payment rise to €5,880?

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Why do they begrudge him an increase while at the same time complaining about the other farmer's reduction, who is still getting twice the payment?

Basic reasoning would suggest that these two farmers who are doing exactly the same work should get paid the same.

In Pillar II, we have heard several times that this is about supporting incomes in vulnerable areas. The first problem with this is that Pillar II has seen reduced funding and will see a drastic reduction in co-financing requirement of national governments – so where is the funding to protect incomes to come from?

What has been clear for the last few years is that any future CAP deal would see a move to a fairer and more equitable payment system. Instead of accepting this and preparing farmers – especially those on very high payments – for the cuts that are coming down the line, what we have seen from the IFA at national level is a circling of the wagons.

What we want is real change. The French proposal where we frontload payments on a set number of hectares would support family farms, as would the proposal of a minimum payment. By doing this we would also put more money into rural Ireland and protect jobs and services.

The IFA national executive seems to have a different view of the future. Their future seems to be one of big ranchers and a lot less farmers. There are consequences to going down this road. The Highlands in Scotland, where you could drive 50 miles without seeing a house, is a good example. This is not the future we want for rural Ireland.

To end on a positive note, we do support the stand taken by IFA to oppose regionalisation.

However, there have been suggestions regarding a minimum payment on marginal land. This is also regionalisation and has to be opposed.

We hope it is not too late for the IFA national executive to see reason and secure an adequate living for the maximum number of families living on the land, as outlined in Article 3b of the IFA constitution.

Many other IFA officers agree with the sentiments outlined in this letter but are waiting until after Tuesday's IFA regional meeting in Claremorris before deciding what action to take.

This letter has been agreed and endorsed by the following IFA branch and county officers: Frankie McKiernan and Thomas Lavin (chairman and secretary Arigna IFA), Sean O'Hara (chairman Ardcarne IFA), Vincent Roddy (secretary Ballaghaderreen IFA), Patrick McManus and Michael McManus (chairman and secretary Blacklion IFA), Paddy Coen (chairman Bunninadden IFA), Ollie O'Boyle and Dennis Neary (chairman and secretary Bangor Erris IFA), Dominic Neela and Frankie Cormack (chairman and secretary Ballycroy IFA), Edward Johnston (chairman Cloonacool IFA), Kevin Reynolds and Ray Gilmartin (chairman and secretary Drumshanbo IFA), Michael Allen (chairman Muff IFA), Tadhg Gunning and Pauric Keane (Kilclare IFA), Michael McPartland (chairman Dowra IFA), Des Corrigan (chairman Glangevlin/Corlough IFA), Sinead Branley (secretary North Sligo IFA), Benedict Gallagher (Sligo sheep chairman), John Joe Dolan (Leitrim sheep chairman), Shane McKeon (Leitrim hill chairman).

Irish Independent

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