Excluding once-off payments, the share of Government spending provided to the farming community in 2023 is the smallest in generations. That is the key conclusion reached by Lorcan Roche Kelly in his analysis of the Government’s budget allocation – announced last week – to the Department of Agriculture.
It clearly shows how core financial support is steadily declining at a time when the demands on the farming community have never been greater.
It is not credible for the Government to disguise this fact by including money allocated to once-off and emergency measures. The nature of these measures reflects the need for support to deal with specific challenges within the sector.
Furthermore, the vast bulk of money within these once-off measures has been provided through the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund, which is financed from Brussels, rather than the national Exchequer.
Despite the rhetoric, the reality is that as both the Government and Brussels place increased demands on farmers, their commitment to supporting the sector financially is in decline. It really is a case of asking farmers to do more and more for less.
Another missed opportunity for energy
When the €300bn RePowerEU initiative was unveiled by the European Commission in March to help reduce reliance on Russian gas, many saw this as an opportunity to secure funding to drive the development of the Irish renewable energy sector. However, as Stephen Robb reports in this week's edition, the Government failed to secure it.
In terms of biomethane alone, to realise the Government’s target of 200 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants by 2030, this will require investment of €2bn. Based on schemes in operation across Europe, at least half of that needs to come from the Government.
Clarity is needed as to why Government felt it didn’t need to tap into the RePowerEU initiative to help fund the development of AD on farms.
Worryingly, we saw a similar failure in accessing funding within the EU’s €750bn COVID-19 recovery fund.
Celebrating 50 years of selling at Balla
On Saturday, Balla Mart in Co Mayo celebrated its 50th anniversary. Over this period, it has become one of the flagship marts in the country with buyers from all over Ireland competing for the constant supply of top-quality cattle on offer each week.
While often controversial, the centralisation of marts in the region has proven key to ensuring Aurivo co-op continues to provide a viable service for both buyers and sellers.
In the Irish Farmers Journal we are delighted to support the mart in the development of its services with our MartBids online auction platform.
Co-ops come together to show support for tillage sector
Co-ops have shown a commitment to the tillage sector this week by paying record grain prices to their members.
The prices put farmers in a good position for 2022 and applies pressure on other merchants to pay comparable prices.
A few weeks ago, farmers were looking at prices of €285/t and less for green barley. A difficult season lies ahead for growers with rising costs and questions around fertiliser availability.