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Survey Results - Farmers feel worse off since introduction of the Single Farm Payment

24 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Ferris TD today launched the initial results of a farmers' mart survey on the sectors future conducted during the summer months. An analysis of the complete survey will be published later this year as part of the Oireachtas Agriculture and Fisheries report into the future of farming and fishing in the west of Ireland. The launch took place at this years National Ploughing Championship in Kilkenny where Sinn Féin have a marquee and party representatives are taking an active part in the 3 day event.

Speaking at the launch event in Kilkenny Deputy Ferris said:

"The survey sought the views of farmers on whether their situation has improved or worsened since the introduction of the single farm payment. In addition a number of other questions were asked including; if farmers in the west believe they are disadvantaged in comparison with the rest of the state, if they believe that either themselves or a member of their family would still be engaged in farming in 10 years time, what they felt were the major issues facing Irish farmers and rural Ireland at the present time.

"The initial findings of the survey for farmers attending marts in West Cork and Kerry show that despite the optimism that surrounded the introduction of the Single Farm Payment as part of the 2003 CAP reform package a large majority of those questioned felt that their situation has either gotten worse or has not changed with decoupling.

"The findings we have analysed to date may reflect the relative disadvantage of farmers in western regions and the fact that the historic based payment reproduces existing income disparities. It would be interesting to see what a similar poll conducted on a national basis revealed.

"The level of pessimism was fairly even across the different types of farmers interviewed, with 67% of mixed, 68% of dairy, 56% of dry stock and 56% of sheep farmers claiming that their situations had worsened. The most pessimistic were those involved in suckling of whom 78% felt that their situations had gotten worse and only 11% of whom felt it had improved.

"The findings are consistent with official statistics on income, farm size and the quality of land, which means that on average farming in the west is more difficult than in other parts of the country.

"Sinn Fein intends to put forward a series of proposals on what needs to be done to ensure the future viability of farming and fishing in the west. The proposals will reflect the demands of those from the sector with whom we have engaged with over recent months.

"Government must bring forward a strategy to ensure the future viability of farming in the west. This must include ensuring adequate farm incomes; proposals to develop potential growth areas within the farming and fishing sectors and measures to ensure that the economic return can be maximised for those involved in farming and fishing. Fostering indigenous business with an eye to the export market must become central to growing and developing the agri-food sector." ENDS

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