Farmers challenge Government plan to recoup € 49m in ‘green’ welfare funding

Farming representatives will challenge Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue over the Government’s decision to re -grant € 49 million in environmental incentives to another department at a meeting on Friday.

Initially issued to help decarbonise farming practices, revelations that money would be transferred to fund fuel subsidies sparked an angry backlash in the agricultural sector.

Details of the decision, published in The Irish Times, were contained in budget documents and provoked irritation given that farmers believe all such funding should be fenced off for green initiatives.

“There are a lot of things that can be done with that money but unfortunately it doesn’t go back to where we wanted it to be,” said Tom McCormack, president of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, who will raise the issue with Mr. McConalogue during a wider post -budget meeting. “We’re going to be very worried about it.”

The Department of Agriculture has promised that the full € 1.5 billion package of decarbonising incentives for farmers will be delivered over future budgets, but the decision to transfer the € 49 million funding has changed many in a sector that is already suspicious of environmental reform and its effects on farming families.

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Tipperary TD and chairman of Oireachtas Agriculture Committee Jackie Cahill said that while the money will reappear in 2023, the decision will likely be upheld by committee members when Mr. McConalogue addresses them to discuss budget measures.

Like others, he said it was against previous guarantees and sources of irritation provided that could have been spent on something.

“We were told that the money would be hedged for environmental agricultural schemes. This is not happening in 2022 so there is failure there,” he said.

“The money was taken in one department for the year and given to a completely different department; the farmers were very disappointed with that. They would say if it could happen once, it could happen again.”

Although satisfied that the money will be made available to fund its original purpose in 2023, Mr. Cahill said he started receiving calls from farmers about it on budget night.

Opposition politicians are also quick to point to a perceived lack of investment in the sector next year. Sinn Féin spokesman of agriculture Matt Carthy said the move was “insulting to the detriment” given the lack of budget investment in the new schemes.

“Most farmers see this as a slap in the face because there is a very good sense that the carbon tax is a job,” he said, adding that farm families now “in a state of crisis” see nothing. who invested in sustainable practices next year.

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