FARMERS IN IRELAND have called on the Government to apply the same principles to them as to those dealt with under the Croke Park agreement.
Speaking ahead of Budget 2012 announcements, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has pleaded with the Finance and Agriculture ministers not to impose any further cuts on the farming sector.
The association’s president Gabriel Gilmartin said any further cuts could undermine targets for export growth in the agri-food sector, which has provided a note of optimism during the economic crisis.
“Farmers should be treated on the same basis as public servants and that there should be a Croke Park-style commitment to no further cuts to farmers,” he said.
Gilmartin claims that farmers have already taken “serious hits”, including the closing down of REPS, a €1,000 decrease in the disadvantaged area payment and the halving of the suckler cow welfare scheme.
Some farmers have lost over €10,000 of their yearly income, he said.
The Croke Park agreement for the public sector was based on the principle that public sector workers had done their bit and therefore should be insulated from further cuts. I believe that farmers have also done their bit and the government cannot be seen to treat farmers as second-class citizens compared to the public sector.”
The ICSA has published its pre-budget submission.
The Revised Estimates for Public Services and the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 show that capital spending for agriculture will drop from €269m in 2011 to €150m in 2012. In terms of current spending, agriculture will also lose out. In 2011, the current expenditure ceiling was set at €1.346 billion but in 2012 it will be lowered to €1.136bn, falling even further in 2013 and 2014.