Farmers must not pay the price for Agriculture Ministers inability to add up his sums – BREEN.

February 6th, 2009 - Pat Breen
Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen warned today (Tuesday) that farmers must not be forced to pay the price for the Agriculture Ministers inability to add up his sums. He was commenting following reports that the Minister for Agriculture & Food Brendan Smith has underestimated the amount of money to be paid to farmers under the Farm Waste Management Scheme.

“The Farm Waste Management Scheme was introduced to assist farmers meet new requirements under the European Communities and farmers who wished to avail of the Grant-Aid payable under the Scheme had to apply to the Department of Agriculture by the closing date of the 31st December 2006, at which point, the previous Agriculture Minister confirmed that the Department had received 48,580 applications.”

“Farmers were put under enormous pressure trying to complete works under the Scheme when Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith refused to renegotiate the 31st December 2008 for completion of works under scheme even though they had to contend with one of the wettest summers in living memory; many had to face delays in the planning process and in the height of the construction boom they found it very difficult to find contractors to do the work. Health and Safety issues came to the fore during December in one fortnight alone two people were seriously injured here in County Clare while working erecting slatted sheds.”

“Claiming that 10,000 applications arrived on his desk in December does not wash with me; the Minister had the figures in his Department since 2006 and at least 10,000 of those farmers did not take up the Scheme for various reasons.”

“Many farmers have taken out bridging loans to undertake the works and it would be unforgivable now if those farmers are forced to pay a further price because the Agriculture Minister Smith cannot add up his sums.”

“Farmers entered this contract in good faith and Minister Smith must now reciprocate by paying up.”