Category: Archive

Tractor protest wending its way toward Dublin

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The Irish Farmers’ Association, which represents 85,000 farm families, says that in the last 10 years 20,000 farmers have been forced to get a job off their farms in order to provide a viable livelihood for their families.
“Farmers’ backs are to the wall like never before,” said IFA President John Dillon. “The nationwide week-long tractor protest is the first phase in IFA’s determination to bring home to the government the neglect of farming and the dire income situation threatening the very survival of full-time family farming in Ireland.”
The association says the so-called “tractorcade” — that will culminate in a protest at Government Buildings in Dublin on Friday — is to highlight the fact that farmers are facing what it calls “silent extinction.”
Dillon said that at a time when farming is already in crisis, the government “really put the boot in” with extra costs as a result of cuts and extra charges in last December’s Budget 2003. He said farmers are frustrated and angry about a 13 percent cut in their living standards last year.
The income drop came at a time when they were “surrounded by ever-increasing costs and bureaucracy, but the value of almost everything we sell is at rock-bottom,” he said.
Teagasc, the agricultural institute, reported net average farm income was euro 15,000 last year. Dillon said this compared with an average industrial wage of euro 26,000.
Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh acknowledged that last year was a difficult one for farmers as they were hit by problems with the weather and world markets.
He said he had done everything he could to help them.
“Farmers last year got euro 1.6 billion in checkes in the post,” Walsh told RTE. “That is an average of euro 13,000 per farmer.”
He said official figures showed up to 60 percent of farmers had alternative sources of income. Many farmers also have working wives known in rural areas as “the laying hen.”
The tractorcade convoys set off from Castlebar, Co Mayo, Tralee, Co. Kerry, and Bantry, Co. Cork, on Monday and expects to build up at various rallying points along the way.
The tractorcade has echoes of a watershed protest in 1966 when farm machinery caused chaos on roads.
This time the farmers say they will minimize traffic disruption. Under an agreement with gardai, only 300 tractors will be allowed into the capital.

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