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Budget does not address real needs of farmers

2 December, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has stated that the Budget does little to address the future needs of Irish agriculture. Deputy Ferris was responding to the measures announced yesterday by Finance Minister Brian Cowen. These included the extension of stock relief for young qualified farmers and a tax relief scheme for farmers taking anti-pollution measures.

Deputy Ferris said: "While I welcome the measures announced, in reality they are fairly marginal and do not address the long term needs of Irish farmers. I have said on numerous occasions in relation to the cuts in Teagasc, that what is needed at present is substantial investment in research and development as agriculture faces the challenges of a reformed Common Agricultural Policy and changes within the World Trade Organisation. I note that a former head of Teagasc, Professor Liam Downey has stated that unless a comprehensive research capacity is in place that farming in marginal areas may disappear by 2020.

"There are almost 100,000 farmers who will be entitled to less than €10,000 under the Single Farm Payment. While this does offer the possibility of providing some basic security of income, that will not be sufficient to maintain the majority of small to medium farms unless they are enabled to move into areas of production that will provide viable returns. With farmers no longer tied to the need to produce in order to draw down subsidies there is an opening for new systems that can also be tied into an expanded domestic processing sector. However, that will not happen by itself. It will only do so if, as with the expansion of other economic sectors, there is the back-up in terms of research and development and that can only be done with the support of the state. The current programme of cutbacks in Teagasc indicate that the political will to do is not there at the present time." ENDS

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