Emmett Corcoran, Roscommon South Leitrim By-election candidate, has expressed concern about the financial pressure that farmers in Roscommon and Leitrim are under. Mr. Corcoran said that he has spoken to several farmers recently who are struggling to make ends meet and do not see a future for themselves in farming.
Emmett believes that many young farmers who may want to take over family farms will have to change the model of farming that currently operates for them to survive financially. Whether we like it or not subsidies and grants to underpin farm income will not exist for much longer, and our dependence on EU funding makes us vulnerable.
Emmett asserted that “Naturally we need to do everything to ensure the longevity of agriculture supports, but we must prepare for every eventuality. It seems obvious that European policy is moving away from supporting small farmers, if we don't face realities we could see the end of the small farmer and no-one wants that as the small and medium sized farmer has traditionally been the back-bone of our rural economies.”
Emmett believes that farmers need to prepare for the future and he believes we can learn from what happened to New Zealand in the 1980’s. At that time traditional markets dried up for New Zealand farmers and they had to fall back on their own ingenuity and financial skills to survive. Those farms that survived had to share resources with other farmers.
Emmett notes that in the August issue of the Irish Farmers Monthly an Irish farmer who lives in New Zealand said that amalgamation and consolidation has to be the norm for Irish farmers in the future. The farmer said that it is effectively twice the cost to run two milking parlours for eighty cows than running just one.
Ireland needs a range of support structures for farmers who want to convert their farm to a new enterprise because it is potentially more profitable. Farmers who start something new and are prepared to take a risk should receive financial support and advice from government departments on how to innovate and diversify efficiently.
Emmett said that there needs to be free financial advice, and natural incentives for young farming entrepreneurs who are preparing new business plans. As well there needs to be knowledge hubs where farmers can collect information about new farming possibilities. Emmett has been struck by the number of private conversations he has had with farmers who are considering ventures such as forestry, horticulture and bee keeping, as a means of creating a sustainable future for their farms.
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