Axing REPS4 Scheme – Final Straw for Clare Farmers – BREEN.

July 17th, 2009 - Pat Breen

The axing of the REPS 4 Scheme is just the final straw for Clare farmers, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen said today. He has written to the Agriculture Minister asking him to review this decision adding that “farm incomes have collapsed this year and many farming families are now in dire straits.”

“Farm Incomes have collapsed this year and the reality is that they are now back to the level they were at around 10 years ago and the Farming Sector has been hit with a series of body blows in recent times.”

“Many farmers took out bridging loans in order to complete works under the Farm Waste Management Scheme and now find that they will only receive 40% repayment under the Scheme this year as payments are being phased in.”

“The price that Dairy farmers receive for milk has halved this year compared to last year, 38c per litre compared to around 22 cent per litre this time last year.”

“Clare Farmers were also hit badly as a result of cutbacks announced late last year by the Government, with 3,752 suckler farmers in the County losing an average of €713 each from the suckler welfare scheme, while a total of 2,500 farmers lost up to €1,000 each as a result of the disadvantaged area cuts.”

“While once again the bad weather is raking havoc for many farmers this year, many of whom already have cash flow problems and now they are being forced to purchase extra feed because of the conditions.”

“As a result many farmers are in dire straits and they are seeking assistance through the Farm Assist Scheme. This is a means tested payment and the qualification criteria for assessing farmers incomes needs to take into account these changing economic circumstances.”

“I am now calling on the Minister Smith to review this decision immediately, there were 2,659 Clare Farmers participating in the various REPS Schemes up to the 31st December 2007, while €134,878,256 was paid out to Clare Farmers from 1994-2007 under the various Schemes.”

“Farmers were encouraged to sign up for the Schemes and now they are being penalised for doing so. We have already witnessed a huge exodus from farming in recent years; and the decision to axe REPS4 is just the final straw for many of those farmers.”