FIANNA Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Michael Moynihan has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to withdraw his hamfisted cuts to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. Deputy Moynihan says the news this week that Brussels has put a halt to Simon Coveney’s proposed changes to DAS reveals a worrying incompetence from the Minister.
Deputy Moynihan said this, coupled with Minister Coveney’s plans not to reopen the Agri-Environment Options Scheme this year, is further evidence of a bias against more vulnerable farmers.
The Cork North West TD said, “Tens of thousands of farmers across the western seaboard who qualified for the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme last year are not eligible for any benefit this year due to cuts implemented by the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney. The DAS was established to help the most disadvantaged farmers. By its very nature, those who qualified for the scheme in previous years were dependent on this support. While the scheme remains on hold due to Minister Coveney’s ill-advised proposals, these farmers are left out in the cold.
“Europe is particularly concerned about the Minister’s moves to double the minimum stocking rates to 0.3LU/ha on a retrospective basis and to exclude land that’s over 80 kilometres away from the farmers holding. Fianna Fáil has strongly opposed these cuts due to the impact they will have on the most disadvantaged farmers, particularly in the West of Ireland. We have voiced this opposition to the European Commission and I welcome the fact that they too have concerns about the effects on Irish farming.
“The dismantling of the DAS is particularly worrying in the context of recent comments from Minister Coveney that he has decided not to reopen the Agri-Environment Options Scheme this year. The Minister’s agenda is a cause of serious concern. Once again it appears that he is more intent on protecting large farmers, while smaller more vulnerable farmers are left high and dry.
“In light of these latest developments in Brussels, I am calling on Minister Coveney to immediately reverse his proposed cuts to DAS,” said Deputy Moynihan.