Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 February 2018

Good outlook for Ploughing

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The weather forecast for the next three days is as good as anyone could have hoped for.

According to Met Eireann we're going to have "very good underfoot conditions for the Ploughing Championship, and dry weather for most of the time with good temperatures."

The good summer weather has certainly eased farmer frustrations this year and it will be no different at the Ploughing.

Good weather at the Ploughing is invariably reflected in a more convivial mood among visitors to the event and that should be case over the coming days.

However, there are plenty of issues for discussion this year, particularly those relating to CAP reform and the IFA presidential race. As per usual, the Budget will corner quiet a bit of debate as well.

In Brussels yesterday, Minister Coveney maintained that farming had been spared much of the Budgetary-related hardship inflicted on other sectors over the last few years.

The claim drew an immediate response from the IFA. Association president John Bryan pointed out that the proportionate spend on agriculture since 2004 had fallen by 25pc, or from 3.04pc of the total national budget in 2004 to 2.26pc in 2013.


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Going into more specifics, Mr Bryan said that since 2008 total funding for agriculture has been cut by 41.2pc, compared to an average reduction across all Government departments of 12.6pc.

Within the agriculture budget, the IFA claim that farm schemes have been targeted for disproportionate cuts.

Total expenditure on farm schemes between 2011 and 2013 had fallen by 18pc or €119m, the IFA maintain. This compares to a reduction in expenditure of 8pc, or €60m, across all other budgetary headings within the agriculture budget.

The IFA leader said that farming remained a low-income sector, and the importance of farm schemes to farm income and production could not be forgotten.

"A combination of dreadful weather conditions, which continued into spring 2013, soaring input costs and the resulting fodder crisis impacted heavily on profitability and output at farm level," Mr Bryan insisted.

He said it was not acceptable for Minister Coveney to use EU funding to try and mask the massively disproportionate Government cuts that have been meted out to the farming sector in recent budgets.

Obviously, there will be more on the Budget over the coming weeks. However, the general consensus is that the exit of 13,000 farmers from REPS 4 will give Minister Coveney more than a little wriggle room given that it will make it far easier to gather the €53m in savings that his department has to realise.

Expect a lot of imaginative accounting when the final package is outlined on October 15.

Irish Independent

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