Deputy Michael Lowry has criticised the Government for actively targeting lower income farmers in Budget 2013. The Independent T.D. for Tipperary stated that the Government have adopted a policy of pursuing some of the most vulnerable in our society and have continued along this vein with regards to the cuts imposed on the agricultural sector. Deputy Lowry described the cuts as a major step backwards and declared that these savage and drastic changes will cut to the bone of some of the most financially strained farmers in Tipperary.
Deputy Lowry stated;
“In the midst of Budget 2013 the true impact of the cuts imposed on farmers has not been adequately highlighted or given due consideration. Budget 2013 has failed farmers and inflicted savage cuts on the most vulnerable aspects of the sector. Whilst the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney T.D. sought to spin this budget in a positive way the reality is that somewhere between €86-€89 million is being hacked off of next year’s spending in agriculture, with the Suckler Cow Welfare scheme and the Disadvantaged Area Scheme amongst some of the biggest losers. In real terms and despite the lines being stated by the government the funding for the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme is being cut by €15 million, whilst Disadvantaged Area Scheme faces cuts of €12 million. Additionally the changes to farm assist will adversely affect some 11,000 of the lowest income farmers in the country.”
“It is despicable to me that the Government has targeted these schemes which are specifically designed to help those farmers who are farming on a smaller holding or in a disadvantaged area.”
“There seems to be a perception amongst the Government that farmers are, across the board, financially stable and can bear the brunt of these cuts. The reality is that another bad year will see many farmers being left with no option but to close up shop. 2012 has been a devastating and hugely challenging year for all Irish farmers. Months upon months of relentless rain and poor weather conditions have seen farm incomes slashed to alarmingly low levels. This coupled with increased fuel and feed costs and the harsh cuts imposed in the Budget will see many lower income farmers being forced to throw in the towel or face the on-going struggle with a business where the viability has been greatly undermined.”
“It is clear that Minister Coveney is praising farmers with words whilst raining cuts down on them. This Government has continually voiced its support and advocated its enthusiasm for Food Harvest 2020 and has stressed the vital role of agriculture in our continued economic recovery. This enthusiasm has unfortunately not been matched by a defence of farm scheme’s around the cabinet table.”
“I will be supporting farmers in their protests against these cuts and will do all in my power to petition the Government to row back on these drastic, demoralising and cruel cuts. This Government has a responsibility to their farming constituents whose work is underpinning jobs and assisting the viability of life in rural Ireland, unfortunately this responsibility has not been upheld and farmers have been shafted in Budget 2013.”