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Adams attends National Ploughing Championships in Athy

21 September, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan, Westminster

Speaking at the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that Irish farm families were facing a severe crisis.

Mr Adams also congratulated the organisers of the Ploughing Championships on another wonderful event.

Mr Adams said: “While the ploughing championships are one of the highlights of life in rural Ireland, many of those attending this week are experiencing great difficulties. Last year farm incomes fell by 30% and the average full time annual income was just €16,000.

“This has led to a further decline in the number of families on the land, with the likelihood that there will be less than 100,000 farms in this state by 2015.

“Some of the reasons for the crisis are obviously connected to the overall economic downturn but there are specific factors at play in agriculture. Among them is the fact that major processors are reducing the prices paid to farmers for their produce. That is an issue that Sinn Féin is examining in the context of the overall development of the agri food sector and the need for a revival of the co-operative ideal.

“There is also the fact that while there was a welcome for the introduction decoupling, that the Single Farm Payment is insufficient to maintain the majority of farmers. The Government has also failed to devise a strategy that took into account the changes brought about by the last CAP reform, and which would have encouraged farmers to move into new areas of production.

“The forthcoming reform of the CAP, therefore, will represent a major challenge for farmers throughout Ireland. Sinn Féin, through our Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew, Bairbre de Brún MEP and Martin Ferris TD, will be making a strong case on an all island basis for small to medium farmers and the need to ensure that whatever changes are made after 2013 protect and strengthen farm incomes in the future.

“Sinn Féin’s vision is for a vibrant rural community with a thriving agricultural sector united north and south. The farming sector particularly small and medium farmers are not well served by the Government or by Government policy. Sinn Féin believes in the development of agriculture across this island with a particular focus on the agri-food sector.” ENDS

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