IFA warns that farmers face ruin if EU subsidies are cut
Irish beef, sheep and tillage farmers will go out of business unless strong subsidies from Brussels continue, the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president has warned.
Ahead of crunch EU negotiations on the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, Brexit and climate change, Joe Healy said it would be a defining year for farming
"Now is the moment for this Government and our Taoiseach to show their mettle by standing up for the CAP," said the Galway farmer, adding that the subsidies were responsible for injecting €1.8bn into the rural economy each year.
"We cannot have a situation where EU farmers have their incomes cut because the UK decided to leave," Mr Healy warned as he addressed the 63rd IFA Annual General Meeting.
"CAP cannot become the fall guy for any new initiatives. The coffers cannot be raided for new programmes."
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who quipped that nobody "gets up earlier than the Irish farmer", said Ireland would continue to argue for the retention of a "strong, well-funded and effective CAP post-2020. We believe that if the EU wants to do new things, and it should, we should find new money".
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the CAP budget would be a "big task" and we could not "shy away from debate" on contributions with the hole left by the UK's exit.
Finances closer to home turf were also under the spotlight as Mr Healy admitted it had been a challenging year for the IFA.