Another stealth cut in the Single Farm Payment (SFP), will hit low income farmers this year, according to Fianna Fáil Agriculture spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív.

He said the change was brought in during Minister Coveney’s tenure as President of the European Council of Agriculture Ministers, however the cuts are only becoming apparent as the small print of these deals emerge. Ó Cuív stated farmers receiving between €5,100 and €10,000 will see their payments cut by up to 10% under the new changes. Up until and including 2013, the first €5,000 of the Single Farm Payment was exempt from modulation.

He said: “However, in response to a parliamentary question, Minister Coveney has admitted that any farmer receiving a payment of more than €5,000 will have a 10.49% ‘linear deduction’ imposed on the full amount of their funding. This equates to a cut of €452 for a farmer in receipt of a payment of €5,001. However, as the payments increase, the deductions reduce and actually result in increased payments for farmers receiving €50,000 or more.

“This is another body blow for low income farmers and is creating a feeling of hopelessness amongst the farming community where it seems all the focus is on those with large farms on very good land. In other words everything is focussed on the top 15% and there seems to be a conscious effort to try to drive many of the smaller farmers or farmers on marginal land out of business by wholesale cuts to payments and multiple schemes with ever more red tape”, commented Deputy Ó Cuív.

“I’m calling on farmers to protest against these cuts in the most effective way possible – by using their vote. I believe if we want a fair CAP that treats all sections of farming equally and ensures the continuation of family farming in Ireland it is imperative for farmers and their families and the rural community in general to send a strong message to the Minister and the Government that the present proposals are unacceptable and that they need to be radically changed between now and August the 1st, the deadline for informing the EU on Pillar 1 decisions.

“The upcoming local and European elections give all citizens the opportunity to show the Government that the measures they’ve brought in over the past three years have damaged rural communities and the small farming sector in particular. I’m urging all farmers to use their vote to demand change and ensure a fairer system for all”.