Disparity in farm incomes must be addressed – Fitzmaurice

Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, Michael Fitzmaurice, has called on the Government and in particular, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to address farm incomes in the West of Ireland. Deputy Fitzmaurice was reacting to a Revenue report earlier this week, which showed that farm incomes in Connacht in 2014 were 70% lower than farm earnings in Leinster and east Munster in the same period.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “It comes as no surprise to read that farm incomes in the West of Ireland are up to 70% lower than those in the rest of the country. We are dealing with family farms here in the West and the emphasis over the last number of years from successive Governments and from farm organisations has titled the balance, especially in CAP, towards the larger farming operation.

  “The new Minister must now address this situation and ensure that the CAP payments system is tilted back in favour of the area from Donegal down to Clare. We must realise that 85% of all suckler cattle in the country is based in the west and northwest. If this trend in farm incomes that we are reading about this week continues, young people in the West of Ireland will not want to become involved in farming. If family farms are viable then the local shop and the local school and the local community will all survive.”

  The Independent TD went on to highlight the need to support agriculture in order to encourage growth in rural Ireland. He added: “It is my belief that agriculture must be one of the main pillars that we have to address in the revival of rural Ireland. If the Government does not take this matter seriously then we are looking at the further demise of rural areas. The age profile of farmers, incomes, and the mountain of rules and regulations being imposed on farmers must be addressed. Now is the time for the people in the west and their politicians in particular to stand up on this issue.”