Ó Cuív says Coveney has ‘failed farmers miserably’ over failure to reduce ‘punitive’ fines

The Government has failed Irish farmers miserably with the onset of two onerous fines, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Éamon Ó Cuív.

He says farmers are being burdened with a fine in the region of €180m for the land parcel identification system (LPIS) as well as the milk superlevy of €75m.

“Irish farmers are facing a double whammy of punitive fines of around €255m as a result of Minister Simon Coveney’s failure to secure a reduction of the superlevy.

“Despite calls from across the farming sector to make greater efforts to do so, the Minister displayed a complete inability to negotiate a better deal,” he said.

According to Ó Cuív he has been consistently called on the Minister to act decisively to ensure that this fine wouldn’t come to pass.

However, he said this has fallen on deaf ears.

He said the Minister failed to guarantee a butterfat adjustment, which would have given Ireland an extra 2% in our quota and reduced the bill facing farmers to the tune of €30m.

“It is staggering to think that Irish farmers will now have to fork out for such a crippling levy despite the fact that all the combined production of all EU Member States will be less than the total EU wide quota.

“The illogicality and the unfairness of that position cannot be overstated. Given the deferral announced by the Commission; the Minister must immediately bring clarity to farmers as to what scheme he intends to introduce for the superlevy payment for 2015-2017,” Ó Cuív said.

According to the Fianna Fail TD, the Minister was also over confident in his certainty that milk prices would remain high, insisting there were no risks with his plan.

“He has failed on this count too. Recent market price volatility is another pressing issue affecting dairy farmers, making it increasingly difficult to maintain decent levels of profitability. The government must urgently examine fixed priced contracts to give dairy farmers predictability and consistently to budget their cash flows.”

“While this Government has been successful in launching a spin and PR campaign, it has failed to protect farmers. Now they’re facing heavy fines, which will have a serious impact on their businesses.

“At a time when the government is talking up a perceived economic recovery, many farmers are facing into substantial EU penalties. The Government must be forced to explain its failure to protect these farmers, rather than being allowed to hide behind its PR offensive,” he said.