A meeting of Donegal farmers will take place this Friday in Letterkenny to protest about the proposed new policies being introduced for collective agreement on commonages and the GLAS environmental scheme for farmers.
A huge crowd of almost 2,000 farmers turned out for a similar meeting in Westport on August 20th last.
At the meeting it was outlined that the proposed collective agreement on commonages could not work for farmers.
It would mean that one farmer would be responsible for the actions of his neighbour and could be penalised for the other farmers’ actions. It also emerged that farmers would be denied priority access to the GLAS environmental scheme if less than 50% of the commonage shareholders did not sign up to collective agreement.
It also emerged that a farmers Single Farm Payment could be at risk if they did not sign up to collective agreement and adhere to the minimum and maximum stocking rates published in the commonage framework plan.
It was pointed out that commonage farmers are being discriminated against as they are the only farmers who can be penalised due to the actions of another farmer.
Three out of the four MEPS for the region attended the meeting.
Marian Harkin MEP gave her full support to the Hill Farmers For Action group and said she would do everything in her power in Brussels and at home to get the flawed proposals changes.
Luke Flanagan MEP launched a scathing attack on the farm organisations for not doing enough to support hill and commonage farmers and vowed to help in any way he can.
Matt Carthy MEP also spoke strongly in favour of the hill and commonage farmers and said he would do what ever it takes to help.
Only one of the five Fine Gael TDs for the region turned up at the meeting and he said he would take the message from the meeting to the minister of Agriculture and the Government
Brendan Joice and Colm O Donnell who helped organise the meeting gave a very strong speech stating that Hill and commonage farmers had been very poorly represented and now was the time for farmers to stand up for themselves and have their voice heard. It was also clearly explained that the collective agreement proposal was not a European requirement and was totally an Irish proposal. The only stipulation that Europe had was that farmers have a minimum stocking rate of 0.05Lu/Ha. It was also clarified that it was only a proposal at this stage and could be changed.
Colm O’ Donnell also stated that farmers in the west had got a raw deal in the distribution of moneys in Pillar 1 and had been promised a fair share of the 580 Million allocated for pillar 2. This had not happened and the reality was that Pillar 2 money was not going to be assessable to farmers in the west who needed it most.
Brendan Joice outlined the priorities of the group which was the abolition of the collective agreement idea and the introduction of the 0.05Lu/Ha as proposed by Europe.
There were very strong contributions from the floor with farmers voicing their support for action and from farmers saying how poorly they had been represented by the existing farm organisations.
Now Donegal farmers have decided to call a meeting in Letterkenny on Friday 5th of September in the Clanree hotel at 8 pm.
The meeting is to support the farmers in the west and to let farmers in Donegal know how serious the situation is for the future of their farm payments.
All the MEPS for the region have been invited as well as all TDs and other public representatives.
Farmers are urged to attend this meeting as this could be their last chance to have their voice heard and get these unworkable proposed schemes changed.