Glenties Electoral Area Aontú rep, David McDwyer
There is massive uncertainty facing the farming community at the moment, due to the global pandemic as well as the uncertainty Brexit brings to the sector.
That is the message from Aontú representative in the Glenties Electoral Area, David McDwyer.
"It is vital that certainty is brought back to a sector that is so crucial to the rural economy of counties like Donegal.
"Immediate clarity is required with regards to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments for farmers the length and breadth of the country, and to ensure that the ongoing discussions keep all payments at the current level.
"This must be a red line issue for our government. The impact of any reduction on the CAP payments would have a disastrous effect on the rural Donegal.
He added the new CAP scheme brings with it an environmental strategy.
"This includes the loss of 20-30% of payments if farmers do not sign up to this environmental strategy that accompanies the new CAP reforms.
"I believe this is the wrong way of going about it. There needs to be more of a carrot approach rather than the stick.
"Farmers who take the steps necessary to make their farm greener should be rewarded financially. No farmer should be punished for being unable to make the commitment required by the new CAP reforms."
Mr McDwyer added the section surrounding High Nature Value Farming talks about payment for maintaining biodiversity and bird cover but it was only a few years ago that farmers were financially penalised for having areas of scrub on their farm.
"It's clear that the people who plan these schemes do not think them through. The irony that this was punishable a few years ago and is now to be rewarded is laughable.
"One of the major points that the commission brings up is the environmental impact of the amount of methane that a cow produces.
"The way to reduce this is to feed the cows small amounts of dried seaweed. Is this going to be purchased at the farmers' expense or will the government provide a subsidy?
"Also the small farmer who lives inland can't just take a trip down to the beach to collect seaweed so it would need to be readily available at the local creamery."
Mr McDwyer pointed out that the major pillar of every rural town is the small farmer.
"If there is any negative financial impact on their earnings there will undoubtedly be a knock on effect for Donegal’s towns and villages.
"The small farmer is the beating heart of the rural economy. In my opinion the Government should not ignore the welfare of the farming community as they have been seen to do recently with the fishing community," he said.
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