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Ferris: Urgent Need To Tackle Farm Income Crisis

2 August, 2003

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has highlighted the need to address the continuing fall in farm incomes. According to the latest Teagasc National Farm Survey, family farm income fell by 5.8% in 2002. Other figures show an increasing dependence on direct payments from the EU and that output fell by over 2%.

Deputy Ferris said:

"These figures are a serious cause of concern. What they prove is that falling incomes are an integral part of Irish farming. In real terms there has been a 16% decline since 1995. Although this has been partly compensated for by the increase in direct payments, the situation on the ground is that tens of thousands of small to medium farm households are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Even with growing numbers choosing to take off-farm work, this has led to a consistent fall in farm numbers.

"While the CAP reform package with full decoupling does provide an opportunity to tackle the crisis, this will only be effective if combined with a radical new strategy designed to address long term structural defects. With farmers no longer dependent on production based subsidies, a conscious decision can be made to reorient farming towards higher quality and value added systems that will boost incomes, and increase the value of Irish exports.

Unless that takes place, and unless smaller producers can improve the value of their output, we will continue to witness a steep decline in farm numbers". ENDS

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