Coveney laments a 'nightmare summer'
on 27/09/2012 00:00:00
Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president John Bryan said the weather and spiralling feed costs will add €400m to bills this winter.
Mr Coveney said he was not surprised that farming organisations had called for the ring-fencing of agricultural funding. But it was far too early for him to start making absolute commitments in on ring-fencing funds, he added.
A €20m agri-environmental scheme which the farming bodies had sought was launched this week.
"We are listening to farming organisations, whether that is young farmers in Macra or whether it is the IFA, the ICMSA, or the ICSA," Mr Coveney said.
"I am trying to deliver as much as I can, but I do have severe restrictions in terms of budgetary ceilings imposed on me by the Department of Finance and by the troika because of broader economic conditions that people understand only too well now
"But obviously my job is to get the best possible deal I can for farming, agriculture, and the agri-food industry generally.
"It is also my job to protect the schemes that are a very important part of farmers' income, particularly after the kind of summer we just had. In many ways it was a nightmare summer for farmers in terms of the amount of rain fall, double the average in most counties that we would normally have.
"There was just no let-up and luckily we got a week to 10 days at the very end of the summer in September that allowed people to salvage the harvest. If that had not happened I think we would have been heading into a very dire winter."
Mr Coveney said payments under various schemes had been brought forward and that he had got the European commissioner to agree a 50% advance payment of the single farm payment, with the result that on Oct 16, €500m in advance payments will be going out to farmers.
The other half of that money will be coming in December.
This week, €150m of support was going out to farmers in disadvantaged areas.
IFA leader John Bryan said he is meeting with bank chief executives to highlight the grave situation facing many farmers and to seek their full support to provide extra cashflow in the coming months.
He called on neighbours to keep in touch with each other and help out in the coming months and disclosed that the IFA has set up project teams in every county to assist farmers worst impacted by the current situation.
"They are facing into a winter where the full brunt of escalating costs and disastrous weather will hit home," he said.