I am disappointed to hear that the Irish Farmers Association is calling for more subsidies – and ridiculous ones at that. The value of the pound has dropped, so as Irish farmers export a large amount of their produce to the UK, the price Irish farmers receive has dropped as well. Now the IFA is calling for Irish taxpayers to make up the difference.
So Irish farmers, who already survive on subsidies (an Irish sheep or beef farmer receives around 50% of their income from subsidies) want yet more money from the government. Money that is taken from other productive sectors of the economy.
However the rest of the economy is suffering at the moment too. No-one else can afford to pay more tax to prop up farmers. Subsidies need to reduce in these hard times, not increase.
New Zealand farmers suffer too with changing exchange rates. They tighten their belts and weather the hard times. That is the nature of any export industry. You can’t expect the government to pick up the tab whenever the market shifts.
In my dealings with the IFA I have found them to be sensible people who want the best for Irish farmers. However they appear to be so used to subsidies now that their automatic response to hardship is to get the government to fix it.
Much as I support Irish farmers, I do hope the Irish government declines this short-sighted request. The EU is already reintroducing export subsidies, which will benefit Irish farmers while damaging agriculture in the rest of the world and draining money from other sectors of the European economy. There is no need for more of this foolishness.
Hat tip: Homepaddock