Fine Gael TD, Michael Ring has attacked a Fianna Fáil General Election candidate over what the Labour Party has to offer for farmers.
Deputy Ring has said he was ‘outraged’ at a claim from Councillor Frank Chambers that the Labour Party is ‘no friend of farmers’.
“I believe that Cllr Chambers has a cheek to attack Labour with regard to farming. The FF-PD treatment of the farming sector is abominable,” said Deputy Ring.
The Fine Gael TD claimed that seven farmers are abandoning farming every day under the current Government.
“In 1997, when the FG- Labour Rainbow Government left office, there were 130,000 active farmers. Nine years on, this figure has fallen by over 20,000 to 110,000 farmers,” he said.
He claimed that agriculture is struggling to meet huge challenges posed by beef imports, rising prices and costs and uncertainty of their continued viability. He said farm income from the sale of their produce fell last year and direct payments now make up 94 per cent of earnings.
The most recent figures indicate that average farm income stands at €17,000, while the average industrial wage is now €30,000.
Deputy Ring said the Government has presided over the demise of the Irish Sugar Industry. He said the Government’s handling of the Nitrates Directive has meant that farmers have to operate under the most restricted of regimes, which will cost farmers €1 billion.
Mr Ring said farmers are continuing to face a huge threat from inferior imports such as South American beef and the Government continues to fail to enforce country of origin labelling in our catering sector and our food labels.
“I believe that Cllr. Chambers should accept that it is his own party – Fianna Fáil that ‘does not understand the pressures on Irish farmers’,” concluded Deputy Ring.