Agriculture Minister must get real and provide a proper service to Clare Farmers.

July 2nd, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. said today (Wednesday) that the Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith should get real and provide a proper service for Clare Farmers who are experiencing a lot of problems accessing services now that the Dept of Agriculture Office in Ennis has been closed down and relocated to Limerick.

“Since the office closed down in Ennis, from speaking with farmers from all around the County there is no doubt about it but that the closure of this office is having a huge impact on farmer. Farmers are experiencing a lot of problems accessing services now that they have to travel to the far side of Limerick to do their business.”

“To suggest that the majority of farmer’s access services through the internet shows how little the Agriculture Minister understands the situation; farmers prefer the one to one assistance which they received at the Ennis office and the reality is that many of the forms which now have to completed are very complicated and farmers need this one to one service. If these forms are not filled out properly farmers could stand to lose out financially which they can ill afford with farm incomes down over 30% alone for last year.”

“Minister Smith does not understand the geography of this County either with many Clare now having to spend three to four hours of their time travelling up and down to Limerick. For example, a farmer travelling from either Cooraclare in West Clare or from Kilfenora in North Clare to Raheen in Limerick has to travel 80 Kilometres one way to Raheen in Limerick, this journey takes 1 hour and 20 minutes with no traffic on the road.”

“County Clare is now the only County in Munster without a Local Department of Agriculture Office. The very least Minister Smith could do is to provide a satellite service on Mart’s Day here in this County to facilitate our farmers. The provision of a local service would be cost efficient as no additional resources would be required as it could absorb a number of locally based Department Staff.”

“I am very anxious see that the Department Staff who gave such loyal service to Clare Farmers are accommodated in any reorganisation here in County Clare and that they are not forced to follow farmers down the road to County Limerick.”

“Minister Smith should get real and provide a proper service for Clare Farmers as there is no doubt about the current arrangements are not suitable and are not serving their needs.”

ENDS