Farm Incomes Continue To Fall

IRELAND - New figures show a 28 per cent drop in farm income for 2009, which the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) put down to government cuts, greedy retailers and the uncompetitive costs in the economy.
calendar icon 25 November 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

This 28 per cent drop comes on top of a 13 per cent fall last year. With many farm families facing desperate financial problems, IFA President, Padraig Walshe accused the Government of being in denial over the dire income situation with their severe cuts across vital farm schemes this year. He said, “it is long past time that Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith stood up and was counted around the Cabinet table.”

The IFA President said the Minister for Agriculture must publicly address the stark income crisis facing farmers, and reassure hard-pressed farm families that REPS, Disadvantaged Areas and the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme would be maintained and fully-funded going into 2010. These schemes are essential to maintain productive agriculture through this crisis, and 270,000 jobs in the economy that depend on farming.

Mr Walshe said the income reductions in the last two years have left the average farm income at only €13,000 in 2009, with the income of full-time farmers at €16,000. This income must provide for family living costs, pension payments and bank repayments, and includes all of direct payments received by farmers. He said average farm income is now one quarter of the average salary in the public sector.

The IFA President strongly criticised some political and union leaders who he said were living in cloud cuckoo land. “They are misleading the public into believing that there is some crock of gold in the private sector that can be tapped to meet the shortfall in the public finances.”

“The facts are that most farmers and small businesses are hanging on by their fingernails and the Government must come forward with immediate action that improves our competitiveness by reducing energy, labour, waste disposal and bureaucracy costs.”

Mr Walshe was also highly critical of the Government and state agencies, including the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency, which have been complicit in allowing the dominant retail multiples cannibalise farm incomes and undermine the livelihoods of farm families across the country.

He said, “processors using the excuse of retailers and disastrous returns from the marketplace is simply not good enough. Dairy and meat processors must stand up for primary producers and stop giving away our produce to greedy retailers at discounted prices.”

Mr Walshe warned retail bosses that farm incomes are on the brink, and unless the prices they pay start to reflect the cost of production and a margin for farmers, they will be held directly responsible for the destruction of food production in this country.

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