Coveney under fire for not fighting €350m budget cuts
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has been accused of not fighting the case for farmers with his cabinet colleagues by accepting €350m in proposed cuts to the agriculture budget for next year.
IFA deputy president Eddie Downey accused the minister of caving in on agriculture budget cuts that were in excess of any other Government department.
Figures from the Revised Estimates for Public Services and the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 show that the current agriculture budget will be cut by 18pc from €1.379bn this year to €1.136bn in 2012, while the average cut across all Government department is just 4pc.
Agriculture is also being hit by more severe cuts to the capital budget than other departments. Agriculture's capital budget allocation for next year will be cut by 44pc from €269m to €150m. However, the average capital budget cut across all departments is much lower, at just 8pc.
Mr Downey described the scale of the proposed agriculture cuts as unacceptable.
"It is not good enough for the minister to accept these cuts for agriculture and to roll over to the demands of the Department of Public Expenditure," he said. He added that it was disingenuous of Mr Coveney to include the Single Farm Payments as part of the agriculture budget, since the SFP was EU money and did not form part of the Department of Agriculture's exchequer allocation.
A Department official said all Government departments were required to undertake a Comprehensive Expenditure Review in the context of the EU/IMF programme, public sector reform and the need to reduce public expenditure. The results of that review has been sent to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for consideration as part of the overall pre-budget deliberations and next year's Estimates process.