IFA President Padraig Walshe said Taoiseach Brian Cowen has agreed to closely examine IFA’s plan for maintaining funding for vital farm schemes, while cutting 27% of the Department of Agriculture’s budget.
Mr Walshe met the Taoiseach and Tanaiste Mary Coughlan after the protest last Monday by more than 500 farmers at the Fianna Fáil meeting in Athlone.
Walshe said reducing and combining cross compliance and nitrates inspections on farms, using meat inspection technicians under veterinary supervision, and allowing cattle be sent for slaughter within 18 months of a TB test, can help to save up to €80 million per year. IFA propose savings of €14m in research expenditure.
IFA has identified savings of €439m which can be achieved between 2010 and 2012. This takes into account a 2010 reduction in the department’s budget of nearly €300m because the pork dioxin payment, farm waste management grants, and fallen animals expenditure will not arise.
Mr Walshe warned the Taoiseach that savings proposed in the Bord Snip report would backfire if the government implement the proposals. He said farmers pushed onto social welfare would cost the exchequer €240m, or €36m more than the proposed savings, and the cuts would also knock €431m off agricultural output.
Instead, a properly supported agriculture could increase export earnings by €2 billion and employment by over 16,000.
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