Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Farm bodies compromised on levies - 65pc of farmers claim

Minister Coveney slated over 'poor' response to ongoing crisis in beef sector

Panoramic: The scale, scenic location and harvest atmosphere for last week’s Ploughing Championships is captured in this photograph taken by local photographer Alf Harvey.
Panoramic: The scale, scenic location and harvest atmosphere for last week’s Ploughing Championships is captured in this photograph taken by local photographer Alf Harvey.
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Almost two-thirds of farmers believe the collection of levies by meat processors and dairies compromises the independence of farm organisations in their dealings with these businesses.

However, a major survey of farmer attitudes has found that farmers are divided on whether their representative bodies should continue to use levies to fund their operations.

The survey of 1,009 farmers was carried out by the Farming Independent at last week's National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois.

It also highlighted considerable farmer dissatisfaction with the performance of the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, in relation to the beef crisis, with two-thirds of drystock farmers describing his response as 'fairly poor' or 'very poor'.

Among the questions asked was whether farmers believed the collection of levies by meat and dairy processors compromised the independence of farm organisations in their interactions with these businesses.

Close to two-thirds or 65pc of respondents believed farm organisations were compromised by this practice and answered 'yes', with 23.5pc disagreeing and stating 'no', while 11.5pc 'didn't know'.

However, despite farmer reservations about processors collecting levies, there is also a realisation that farm organisations need the funds.

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When asked if farm organisations should be funded by levies collected by meat and dairy processors, 49pc answered 'no', while 38.9pc answered 'yes', with 12.1pc 'don't knows'.

In relation to the ongoing beef crisis, 63.5pc of respondents felt Minister Coveney's response was either 'fairly poor' or 'very poor'.

Drystock farmers were particularly dissatisfied with his performance.

Two-thirds, or 66pc, of drystock farmers surveyed rated the minister's response to the collapse in beef prices over the last year as 'fairly poor' or 'very poor'.

Dairy farmers also registered their anger at the fall-off in cattle prices, with 63pc describing Minister Coveney's response as 'fairly poor' or 'very poor', while 23pc said it was 'satisfactory'.

Fourteen percent of dairy farmers rated the minister's actions on beef as 'fairly good' or 'very good'.

Full-time farmers were particularly critical of Minister Coveney.

Sixty-nine percent of full-time operators rated his response to the beef crisis as 'fairly poor' or 'very poor', while the figure for part-time farmers was 62pc.

In relation to farm safety, the survey found that a quarter of full-time farmers had been injured in a work-related accident that necessitated hospital treatment.

While almost one-in-five or 19pc of those surveyed said they had been involved in a farm accident that required hospital treatment, this figure rose to 24pc for full-time farmers.

Meanwhile, in findings that reflected the contrasting fortunes of the main farm sectors, three-quarters of dairy farmers said their farm enterprises were profitable this year, compared to just 20pc of drystock farmers and 26pc of grain growers.

Indo Farming