Minister ‘underestimating farmer anger’

Following IFA protests over the crisis in the beef sector and the problems with the Rural Development Plan, IFA President Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is totally underestimating the anger and frustration of the farming community over his inaction with the meat factories and delays on the RDP plan.

Following IFA protests over the crisis in the beef sector and the problems with the Rural Development Plan, IFA President Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is totally underestimating the anger and frustration of the farming community over his inaction with the meat factories and delays on the RDP plan.

“The Minister must do his job, take action now and defend farmers struggling for viability in vulnerable sectors and regions across the country,” said Eddie Downey.

Eddie Downey said the real anger and frustration among farmers with Minister Coveney’s lack of action was clearly evident at packed IFA regional meetings across the country in the last week.

The IFA President said beef farmers feel they have been robbed with an array of weight and age specification price cuts and with the way the factories have torn up the Quality Payment Scheme.

This has brought the level of trust between factories and their farmer suppliers to a new low.

He said “As far as IFA is concerned, a deal is a deal and the factories must honour their commitments on the QPS”.

Eddie Downey said IFA has specifically requested Minister Coveney to intervene with the factories and insist that they honour the agreement they entered into with farmers on the Quality Payment System.

“IFA is also demanding that the Minister removes the roadblocks impeding the live trade to Northern Ireland.

“This is vital for price competition.

“Minister Coveney needs to be much more proactive and supportive of the live export trade, which is essential for price competition in the sector.”

On the Rural Development Plan, Eddie Downey said there is an opportunity for the Minister to ensure that the RDP programme plays a much more significant role in supporting farm incomes over the next number of years.

He said the loss of REPs to thousands of drystock farmers has been a serious income blow, coming on top of cutbacks the Minister has imposed on the Disadvantaged Areas scheme. The IFA President said the opportunity now exists to put in place a meaningful set of Rural Development supports for low-income vulnerable sectors and regions.

He said it is vital that Minister Coveney insists that these supports are available to all low-income farmers. Eddie Downey said that the 2014-2020 RDP plan is an opportunity to tackle the issue of low farm income.