West versus east divide on payments
A leading farmer representative in the west of Ireland has warned that cuts introduced by successive governments were severely undermining the viability of suckler and sheep units in the region.
Sligo IFA chairman Eddie Davitt said the ongoing controversy with the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) had put the spotlight on the plight of thousands of farmers who had suffered severe cuts over the past four years.
Mr Davitt said the axing of REPS, withdrawal of AEOS, cuts to the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS) and the proposed reduction of €30m in DAS payments had devastated farmer incomes in the west.
"West of Ireland farmers feel that they have been unfairly hit by all the cuts of the past few years," Mr Davitt said.
"Lads in my area have suffered cuts of up to 50pc in terms of direct payments. Some families have lost between €12,000 and €15,000."
He said that while farmers in more prosperous parts of the country had a single farm payment (SFP) to fall back on, most farmers in the west depended on schemes such as REPS and DAS for income support.
"Most farmers in hill areas have single farm payments of between €3,000 and €8,000. This is a long way off farmers in the richer lands."
He said farmers in eastern and southern parts of the country had expressed their determination to hold onto their SFP but he said something also needed to be done to support hill and drystock farmers in the west.