Frank Brady pictured previously at a regional protest outside Cavan Courthouse, where he also addressed last Monday’s meeting of Cavan County Council.

Farmers fire warning shot at councillors

Farmers have fired a shot across the bough at county councillors warning them "if ye don’t look after us, we won't look after ye; farmers have a vote”.

IFA’s Ulster/North Leinster chairman, Frank Brady, made the remark as he addressed Cavan County Council's monthly meeting on Monday afternoon. 'Enough is Enough' was the strong message delivered by farm leaders to elected members on the local authority.

Councillors adopted a resolution brought to them by IFA’s County Executive asking that the council support the IFA’s ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign and recognise the significant contribution that farmers and the agri-sector make to the Irish economy.

The resolution was proposed by Cllr Winston Bennett (FG), himself a dairy farmer; and seconded by Cllr Shane P. O’Reilly (Ind). It also seeks acknowledgement from Cavan County Council of the income challenge facing Irish farmers due to increases in the cost of doing business, regulatory costs and cuts in basic income supports for farmers.

Adopted following the suspension of Standing Orders, the resolution also calls on the Government to introduce no further regulations to the sector or any measures that would increase costs on farms without full negotiation and agreement with IFA.

It asks that Cavan County Council calls on the European Union and the Irish Government to provide additional stand-alone funding, separate to CAP, to support farmers to undertake climate and biodiversity measures.

During proceedings, Mr Brady pointed out that 10,000 people in Co Cavan are employed either directly or indirectly in agriculture. “25% of the working population is in agriculture and the average age of a farmer in Co Cavan is 57 years,” he continued.

“We are here because of regulation, red tape and no margins. Elections are coming up and if ye look after us then we will look after ye. There is no future for farmers here because of the red tape and no margins. There is a change coming so please help us; don’t patronise us, help us.”

Cavan IFA Chairman, Maurice Brady said farmers wanted to highlight the economic impact locally that regulations were having and the “ever-increasing burdens being placed on farmers”.

“The EU and the Irish Government are devising policies for the farm gate,” he continued. “We are moving from CAP funding to eco schemes instead of providing additional funding and farmers are being asked to do more for less.

“Regarding ACRES, farmers are still waiting to get into the scheme and those already in it are still waiting for payments. The reduction in the Nitrates Derogation has been imposed by the EU Commission and the Nature Restoration Law has placed further restrictions on farmers because of designated areas and further reduction in payments," lamented Mr Brady.

“20% of agricultural land in Co Cavan is special designation and many farmers now need an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licence just to farm. We need joined-up thinking when it comes to dealing with Ash Dieback and last year saw the lowest planting rate since 1948 because of the way farmers working in forestry are being treated,” he added.

Following his proposal of the resolution, Cllr Bennett concurred with everything said. He highlighted how the changes in the VAT rates had left farmers not knowing what they can and cannot do “from one end of the week to the other”.

“Over regulation is a joke at this stage,” he continued. “This is particularly evident when it comes to moving slurry. And, if we have to go back to 150kgN/ha from 170kgN/ha under Nitrates Derogation, then the county of Cavan will close down.”

Cllr Shane P. O’Reilly addressed "the elephant" in the room - the EU. "Political parties and Government advisers find themselves at the behest of the EU and, if it gets a cold, we get the flu. Farmers are being asked to do more and I believe that IFA did not represent its members during those discussions. Irish farmers are at the cornerstone of every rural community in this country and I support the resolution.”