“Farmers and farm families are being forced to leave their farms as a result of crazy rules and regulations” That was what I said in the Dail earlier this morning (Thursday) during questions to Minister of Arts Heritage and the Ghealtacht Heather Humphries. Farmers in so called protected areas were having their payments cut down or cut off altogether and he wanted to know what her department were doing about the situation or was there a compensation package being offered to the farmers affected.
Minister Humphries said that in 2007 the EU decreed that Ireland had not complied with the regulations on Special Areas of Protection and she said that now farmers had to comply with the EU directive. She said that there were various schemes available like Glas and Glas Plus.
I was extremely unhappy with the Minister’s response. “Whoever wrote that answer doesn’t not understand what is going on in rural Ireland. When you have land designated you might as well emigrate. You cannot make a drain on it or plant it either if you abide by these rules. The Rural Development Plan is available for some people and not for others and that’s the reality”
“There is that there is no proper scheme in operation from this department since 2010 and they have ran behind the hills on this issue since. The Minister says that they are liasing with the Department of Agriculture, well I can tell the Minister that I met with officials of her department three weeks ago in Athlone and they told me they had no contact with the Department of Agriculture on this issue”
“The reality is also that if you are undesignated and in organic farming you get the same priority as if all your land was designated. We are driving families off the land because of these crazy rules. They were drawn up by civil servants and the farmers certainly didn’t look for them. This is a serious issue that we need to address urgently”