IFA Presidential candidate and Laois farmer Francie Gorman says the Government must increase its supports for the agriculture sector in Budget 2024 after its “failure to provide any meaningful supports to the sector in last year’s Budget.”
Speaking with Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donoghue at the Ploughing Championships on Thursday, Mr. Gorman described agriculture as the “forgotten sector” and that the Government is failing to recognise that any Budgetary supports introduced for agriculture will inevitably be “repaid in spades” to the Irish Exchequer.
“It is not good enough that agriculture barely got a mention in Budget 2023,” he told Minister Donohoe. “It wasn’t on the agenda at the recent Fianna Fáil think-in at Horse and Jockey in County Tipperary and it wasn’t even considered at the Fine Gael gathering in Limerick last week until IFA members brought the issue to the front door of the conference venue.”
“We are the one sector that will be here in hail, rain or snow when everybody else is gone,” he told the Minister. “The Government can find money for everything, such as Covid, the banks and the National Children’s Hospital. What it fails to recognise is that farmers are not looking for an awful lot nor does it acknowledge that any investment it makes in our sector in this year’s Budget will be returned in spades to Revenue next year.”
In response, Minister Donoghue said, “You’re not forgotten by me. You’re not forgotten by Fine Gael. We’re actually having a conference on this topic in November.”
The Minister continued, “In all the budgets I have done and everywhere I go, I have competing demands on me. And I’ve lots of cases being made to spend money. I can absolutely assure you that I recognise that many parts of Irish farming have had a terrible year. They’re under pressure from weather, from new directives and also from pricing…. We’ll do our best around the Budget.”
Gorman, a beef, suckler and sheep farmer from Ballinakill, County Laois, who is one of two candidates for the IFA presidency, commented, ““Farmers are being driven to breaking point regarding the various agri schemes in terms of the difficulties being experienced by applicants, delayed payments and approvals for schemes like TAMS, and the prohibitive costs associated with engaging directly with the Department whereby individual farmers must employ a private consultant or Teagasc advisor to do their work. You throw in a year like we have had with incessantly poor weather and huge input costs, and it’s easy understand why farmers are frustrated.”