Speaking after a meeting with representatives of the Irish Farmer’s Association in Donegal Town Deputy Pearse Doherty said: “The farmers raised the concerns they have in relation to key issues such as the future structuring of the Single Farm Payment, the non replacement of the AEOS scheme and the delays in payments for those on existing schemes, changes to stocking levels introduced in the December Budget and the impact this is having on existing farmers.
“Members at the meeting also expressed concern at the real possibility that Capital Assets would be used for assessment for student grant purposes in the future and the lack of any retirement scheme for farmers, which would encourage young farmers into the sector.
“While I was aware of these issues and have been raising them with the Department for Agriculture and the Minister for some time, the meeting this evening provided me with a first hand account of the real hardship faced by some farmers in the County.”
He claimed the Minister was hiding for cover behind national reports, which state that Farming Incomes have increased in 2011 but the account he received from farmers in Co Donegal tells a different story.
“With the high percentage of disadvantaged land, farmers in Donegal consistently earn a fraction of the national average in terms of farming income. The Government must respond to this if we are to see the farming sector in Donegal thrive into the future,” said Doherty.
“There is a real need for the Minister for Agriculture to recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to farming policy, which fails to take account of all the relevant factors, is not going to assist small farmers in this county, struggling to make ends meet.
“I will continue to highlight the issues discussed last night with the Minister for Agriculture at every opportunity to ensure the difficulties faced by farmers in this County are not ignored by policy makers.”