Farm incomes and the key questions still to be answered

I WAS annoyed over the past couple of days during the debate on farmers’ incomes.

We are getting conflicting views on what farmers earn annually, with our esteemed minister informing us that they average €30,000 and IFA giving a more realistic figure of €15,000.

Both agree that the average industrial wage is €26,000 and average public sector pay is €37,000. But an income of €15,000 is OK apparently for farmers because most of their spouses have a second, non-farming income.

Here are a five questions to consider:

1. What about the industrial/public sector worker? Does he/she have a spouse in employment, giving them a potential income of €52,000 a year in the case of the industrial worker and a potential €74,000 a year for the public service employee if he or she is married to someone in the same sector.

2. What happens to the farmer without a spouse? Who helps him out in his time of need?

3. Nearly all farmers live in the countryside with no childcare facilities in most areas.

How can their spouses work without this basic right?

4. Anyway, why should an off-farm income have to be used to provide a crutch for an industry that should be viable on its own?

5. What should the farming community do when they have experienced a 10% cut in income in the last year alone, and a 26% decrease in the last seven years? Sit back and accept it!

I would like to see how other sectors would respond if, instead of an annual increase in their income, they had to endure a 10% decrease. I reckon we would have much more than just a tractorcade to Dublin.

Laoise Hennessy,

The Beeches,

Gurth,

Vicarstown,

Co Cork.

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