EU subsidies to Irish farmers and food producers exceed €1.9bn in 2009

IRISH farmers and food companies received more than €1.9 billion in subsidies from the European Union last year with the biggest recipient, the Irish Dairy Board co-op, receiving almost €8 million.

The top 10 payments went to companies, while the biggest farming single recipient was Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, farmer Walter Furlong who received about €402,000, some €30,000 more than in 2008.

Last year’s biggest beneficiary, the sugar company Greencore, which received more than €83m to get out of the business, was not listed in the top 30 this year.

In all, there were 137,736 recipients with 434 receiving more than €100,000 and accounting for almost half the total sum. The vast majority of farmers received less than €20,000.

The second largest recipient was the Commercial Mushroom Producers co-op based in Monaghan, which represents about 90% of the country’s mushroom growers. It received €4.7m.

The co-op is followed by three Cavan-based companies, Bailie Foods and Glanbia Ingredients and Abbott, which makes infant food formulas in Cootehill.

The manufacturers of one of the country’s biggest exports, the cream liqueur Baileys, R & A Bailey Ltd, Nangor, Dublin received €1.2m followed by the producer of infant and child nutrition, Wyeth of Askeaton, Co Limerick, at around €1.1m.

The top meat company recipient was Rosderra of Edenderry, Co Offaly, the country’s largest producer of pigmeat, accounting for about half of the country’s pigmeat industry. It received €515,000.

A little more than €242,000 went to 17 recipients outside Ireland, including in the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, one with an address in a chateau in France and two in the US.

In Co Cork the biggest recipient was West Cork Development Partnership in Clonakilty at €297,000, followed by Rathcormac farmer Terence Coughlan at €257,000 and Tom and Aoife Browne of Killeagh with €247,000.

The largest beneficiaries in Kerry were Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta, An Daingean, €351,774.20; South Kerry Development Ltd, Cahersiveen, €250,372.28 and Con and Joseph Barry, Lixnaw, €225,484.39.

CAP payments amounted to €55bn last year. Under the Common Agricultural Policy no members are allowed to subsidise their food production. This is done by the EU and accounts for close to half its budget. The policy is under constant reform to reduce subsidies and move payments away from production, where it was fuelling growth in products whether they were selling or not, to greater emphasis on food quality and safety and to rural development.

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