Thousands of Irish farmers march in Dublin

(c) Irish Farmers' Association

Thousands of Irish farmers converged on Dublin last week to remind the government that the farming sector expects “…a full CAP budget…” to be secured in forthcoming CAP reform talks. Irish Farmers’ Association president John Bryan told the crowd: “Farmers from every rural parish of Ireland have attended today’s Day of Action to fight for the future of family farming, a sector that supports 300,000 jobs and EUR 9 billion in exports.”

Three quarters of the population in the Irish Republic is rural, which means that agriculture is a vital sector in the economy. Bryan spoke of his members’ concerns for the future: “The next two months will see decisions taken in Brussels and by our Government that will have a huge bearing on the ability of the sector to survive and grow. Farming can help deliver recovery and jobs, but only with the right policies and supports.”

He warned that the CAP budget was under “serious pressure” and urged Irish farm minister Simon Coveney to “toughen his stance” so as to secure the EUR 1.6 billion funding that Irish agriculture is depending on. The large turnout reflects the wide-spread view that farm schemes have been unfairly targeted for cuts since 2008. There have been cuts of over 40% in the agriculture budget, compared to 10% across all government departments. In last year’s budget, Bryan added, farm schemes were cut by 17%, compared to a 6% cut across the entire agricultural budget and 3.5% across other government departments.

“Like all other working families, farmers have also had to find the money to pay significantly higher taxes and charges,” Bryan declared. “Today, farm families are saying ‘enough is enough’.” Bryan also challenged enterprise minister Richard Bruton to act on an earlier commitment to regulate retailers and “…to restore equity in the food supply chain.”

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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.