An immediate review of the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) is needed, to meet the needs of hill and commonage farmers, according to Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesman Éamon Ó Cuiv.

“I have been highlighting this issue for the past two years and now the chickens have come home to roost,” he told Agriland.

“From day one, I had it made it clear that the Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 dimensions to the new CAP must be discussed together. Instead, the farming organisations pushed producers in hill areas to accept a Pillar 1 deal that, patently, did not meet their needs with the promise that the books would be balanced, once it came to sorting out the details pertaining to Pillar 2.

“Now, commonage farmers know that they have lost out on both counts and, quite rightly, they are now organising their own protests.

“It is, therefore, incumbent on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to commit to reviewing the detail of the new Rural Development Programme with immediate effect. We need a comprehensive strategy put in place, ensuring that every acre of land in Ireland is farmed appropriately for every good economic, community and environmental reason.”

The Fianna Fáil TD went on to point out that Fine Gael is losing support in the West of Ireland. “It is now apparent that the current government is not prepared to support farmers and communities in rural communities.

“Simon Coveney seems to be acting as Minister of Food only at the present time, given the very peripheral recognition he is giving to production agriculture and those companies and sectors that support our framing industry. I have no issue at all with the likes of the large dairy co-ops getting the support they need: but the same principle must hold when it comes to the likes of the marts and those other service providers within our rural communities.”

He also said that Simon Coveney must make a review of the new RDP a priority, given that farmers in disadvantaged areas need the correct support policies put in place as quickly as possible.