Macra president Michael Gowing said the Government must not turn its back on young farmers who are qualified, willing and able to put in time and effort to establish their enterprises. Increases agreed for agricultural schemes under the last social partnership were eroded by the Government and then schemes were suspended and closed.
Cuts in other areas where significant increases were previously agreed, including the public service, were miniscule compared to agriculture, where the average farm income is “103% reliant on schemes including REPS”.
Mr Gowing said young farmers have the skills, drive and determination to build and develop their businesses but they are seeing their livelihoods devastated by cuts to agricultural schemes.
“These young farmers want to grow and expand their business and create employment opportunities and not be forced to exit agriculture.
“These are not hobby farmers. They are farming entrepreneurs and should be treated with the same respect the Government gives to other entrepreneurs,” he said.
Mr Gowing said the Government is turning its back on young farmers, who are being left to sink in their business start-ups.
Meanwhile, ICSA rural development chairman Gabriel Gilmartin has called for debate on the future of farming.
With the closure of the REPS 4 scheme and proposed Bord Snip cuts, it was time for Opposition and other interested parties to engage with farmers, he said.
“ICSA has always maintained that viable export-led industries such as the farming sector should be supported and not routinely savaged by disproportionate cuts, as is currently happening.
“We need to hear what the Opposition and Government backbenchers are planning on doing to protect farm incomes and rural Ireland,” he said.