Show Me The Money

Posted: May 9, 2012 in Other Shuff
Tags: , ,

Published in The Connaught Telegraph, November 2011

YOU should have received the first of your single farm payments in the post this week.  After a bit of nagging, Minister Simon Coveney broke the resilience of the EU commissioner, the first payment was brought forward by two months.

The precious cheque from Europe is a rare and badly needed reward in an industry where the margins are small. These payments are the life blood of the farming sector in this country. 1.2 Billion, is the amount those nice people in the E.U will give the farmers of Ireland this year. A further 1.8 Billion will arrive in area aid.

Thank you Europe or should I say Germany. If we hadn’t been receiving these payments long before any banking crisis you’d almost feel guilty; then again how many property investors would have traded places with a farmer back in those heady days? Anyone? Didn’t think so.

Anyway that 1.2 billion sure is a lot of money. Wouldn’t it be great if they just divided it equally and harmoniously among the wider farming family? That would be great for us boys back west with a few acres on the side of a hill; unfortunately that’s not the way the real world works.

At least one thing us little fish don’t have to worry about is public ridicule by single farm payment, or PRBSFP, to give it its catchy abbreviated title. In 2008 and 2009 the Department of Agriculture decided to publish the names and home towns of those who received payments under the common agricultural policy. A name and shame except the people involved had done nothing wrong except make loads of money.

The figures showed that over 500 farmers and food companies received over €100,000 each. The Department of Agriculture with the ready made excuse of “The EU made us do it”, were giggling away in Kildare Street as farming groups were suitably outraged at this invasion of privacy.

When put in context the figures showed that most farmers received less than €20,000 and a large proportion received a lot less than that again. However, it’s not Johnny from across the road that gets a few thousand who makes the headlines. They are reserved for the likes of Tom and Aoife Browne, from the evidently affluent surrounds of Killeagh in the county of Cork, who received the paltry sum of €432,564. Clearly we don’t know the meaning of big time farming in Mayo as we had no-one in the top ten.

No one likes their income splashed across the newspapers, particularly those who earn the most. The attitude is its alright being well off, as long as no one knows how well off.

It’s unclear if the department are going to publish these figures every year. If they do and you’re expecting a windfall this might be time to take a holiday and avoid the dreaded PRBSFP. Let’s face it, you can clearly afford it.

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