USA-based lobbyist says returning emigrant farmers get raw deal
A USA-based advocate for Irish emigrants has called on the Department of Agriculture to remove “roadblocks” hindering returned emigrants, and to instead provide incentives to revitalise rural communities.
Ciaran Staunton, chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, is from a farming background in Mayo.
He has been highlighting the issue of what he regards as “unfair criteria for the National Reserve” and other challenges for those returning to farm in Ireland for the past three years.
He said he believes that replacing obstacles with incentives at a time when more young emigrants are contemplating leaving the USA because of President Trump’s crackdown on the undocumented, would bring much-needed rejuvenation to rural areas.
“These include the requirement for the Green Cert and tax returns to apply for the National Reserve. Those living illegally in the US are not in a position to make tax returns.
“People who grew up on farms or inherited farms and had to emigrate, were denied access to the National Reserve and treated like hobby farmers because they weren’t farming at the right time.
“People were penalised for having to leave and any speed bumps that were there were put in by the Department of Agriculture and not the European Union,” he said.
Farmers who had been intending to invest in building had to go and buy entitlements and yet the Department of Agriculture had returned money to the exchequer because of an underspend, he claimed.
Despite numerous meetings with government representatives and agencies, little progress had been made, he told AgriLand.
“I have found no empathy whatsoever for people who were forced to leave rural Ireland,” he said.