Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD today launched his parties 2020 alternative budget proposals for Agriculture and Food.
The Laois-Offaly TD outlined the parties’ decision to focus additional spending on two areas;
(1) to support small and medium sized farmers who work in difficult terrain
(2) to open up new areas of income streams for farmers in Agro-forestry and organic farming.
Deputy Stanley said:
“This morning, we launched our Agriculture and Food Budget 2020 proposals.
“For far too long now rural Ireland has been left isolated and neglected.
“It is Sinn Féin’s commitment that we will not stand by as local towns and villages are de-populated and the family farm is closed.
“Our proposals have a clear strategy and that is to support small and medium sized farmers.
“Those are the farmers who need our help the most and our policies are framed with that in mind.
“That is why we have committed €25m of extra spending for the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme. This funding is intended for those farmers who work on the most difficult of terrain and their livelihoods must be protected.
“We have an additional €6m for a land drainage scheme. Again, this will assist farmers who work in difficult conditions and who need support to overcome natural events.
“We have also continued our long-standing policy to equalise the Earned Income Credit between self-employed farmers and PAYE workers at a cost of €40m. Historically, this has been a key demand from the Agri-sector and full equalisation would go a long way in providing farmers with a fair playing field.
“As a party, we also have an eye on the future and must begin planning new streams of incomes for farmers.
“That is why we have committed an additional €4m for organic farming grants and €2m for the re-adjustment of an afforestation grant scheme.
“We are committed to afforestation, but the current system does not work for farmers, especially young farmers. Which is why we want to see the current ‘Forestry Scheme’ premiums extended beyond the current 15-year limit.
“We have also allocated a further €9m towards additional Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) places. We recognise the current support which GLAS provides to farmers and we want to ensure that the scheme plays a very important role in any future national environmental plan.”