IFA 'very concerned' about budget as demonstration gets underway
on 09/10/2012 13:12:16
The Irish Farmers Association says up to 10,000 people are marching from Merrion Square to the Dáil in the biggest demonstration of its kind in 15 years.
Farmers want the current CAP allocation of €1.6bn a year to be maintained along with a ring-fencing of the agriculture budget from further funding reductions.
Throughout the morning bus loads arrived in Merrion Square from around the country to take part in the protest march to the Dáil. It is getting underway over an hour later than expected, however.
The demonstration to Kildare Street is being led by half a dozen tractors, a combine harvester and other farm machinery.
The IFA President John Bryan says the current CAP allocation of €1.6bn a year must be maintained.
"We're very concerned about the upcoming negotiations on the CAP budget in Europe. The critical decision on the level of funding for the whole of the EU will probably be made in late November or early December. We're here to send a clear signal to the European Commission and the heads of state that it is essential we take no cuts in the budget."
He also the government can't continue to heap extra cuts and costs on top of farm families.
"Farming is operating on a tight income. The cuts over the last few years, whether the universal social charge, extra taxes or cuts in schemes have hit farm income hard. This was a wet year as well on top of that, a further hit. The inputs in farming, fuel and fertiliser, have risen by 30% in the last two years, putting huge pressure on farm income."
The Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney says he will meet with some of the protestors to discuss the issues.
"I'm very well aware that we have been through the most difficult summer in living memory from a weather point of view. It is my job, at a difficult time from a budgetary point of view, to get the best possible deal for farmers."
Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesperson Eamon Ó Cúiv says farmers have valid concerns: "It's absolutely imperative that the funding of €1.6bn per annum is maintained over the next seven years but there seems to be a doubt in Europe over that."