Farm Waste Management Must be Fast-Tracked as South Tipperary Farmers Struggle – Hayes

South Tipperary T.D. Tom Hayes has called on Brendan Smith to fast-track the payment of outstanding Farm Waste Management Scheme payments. Figures released to Tom Hayes T.D. from the Department of Agriculture show that South Tipperary farmers forced to claim Farm Assist payments have almost doubled since 2008.

“According to the figures released to me by the Minister for Agriculture, there were 86 farmers receiving Farm Assist payments in 2008. That figure now stands at 148, which is an increase of 91% of farmers who are now dependent on a social welfare payment. When this is taken into account with recent reports from Teagasc that Irish farm incomes fell by 30% last year, which is way higher than the average fall in income in Europe which was only 11%.”

“Farmers are struggling on a day-to-day basis and the government is not acting.”

“The Minister for Agriculture and Food has told me this week that the outstanding payments due to farmers in South Tipperary for the Farm Waste Management Scheme are €4 million euros. The government has scheduled this final payment for January 2011, which is a purely arbitrary date, as the farmers have already paid out this money. Some farmers got credit from the bank to pay for the works under this scheme, and are now seriously under pressure.”

“Fine Gael has lots of ideas about how to help farmers in this tough period, one of the most sensible and easiest things that the government would do is to fast-track the re-payment of the Farm Waste Management Scheme. The scheme is already administered, the applications are approved and even paid in part. The remaining payments of €112 million nationally and €4 million for South Tipperary farmers specifically would make cash-flow much easier for farmers to manage.”

“The other proposals that Fine Gael have made include curtailing unfair trading practices, action on food labelling issues, increasing competitiveness by cutting business input costs, among other proposals. We are seeing no work from the government to save and rejuvenate farming. For a very long time now I have been advocating Ireland’s agricultural sector and food production sector as having huge potential for recovery from this recession, but the Government are happy to sit by and watch the drastic numbers of farmers forced to apply for Farm Assist programme, while holding on to money that farmers are entitled to.”

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