Following a meeting with IFA representatives and other farmers in Donegal town Marian Harkin MEP has called for a greater level of fairness in the distribution of the single farm payment from 2015 onwards. " Last time out counties like Donegal fared very badly with an average of €179 per hectare, the lowest in the country. There was however a certain rebalancing with pillar two or rural development payments. While these payments helped to narrow the gap somewhat in the first few years the subsequent severe cuts to pillar two schemes such as REPS, Disadvantaged areas, Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme cut many farmers in Donegal off at the knees. This has left many farmers struggling to survive and this time out Donegal must not lose out like the last time in pillar one payments"
"The last time out some farmers secured a substantial single farm payment , while others were left behind. I would not support a complete flattening of the payment which would give every farmer an average payment of approx €260 per/ha but we need to move from a situation where some farmers receive payments of €600 to Over €1000 per/ ha while others have to survive on payments as low as €30 to €150 per/ha. It is crucial to say also that this is not an East West issue. In Cork, for instance, over 3,600 farmers, one getting less than €200 ha while just 1,300 are getting more than €500ha.
" We also need a commitment from the Minister that he will fully co-fund pillar two payments and that he will push to ensure a meaningful agreement on coupling. This will help to ensure the viability of the suckler and sheep sector. This is a difficult situation where there will be winners and losers so therefore it is important to ensure that any redistribution is fair, that it doesn't cut some farmers off at the knees but equally gives other farmers who were not so lucky last time out a chance to improve their situation , increase their production and contribute to achieving their full potential". Marian Harkin concluded.