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Snippet Contents:

Eleven years is a long time ago. As some people who are farming now believed in Santa Claus then, it should not be that relevant. What about the farmer who is entering farming with no historic payment? As 30% of nothing is nothing, we will not get any greening payment. In one sense, we should not be too surprised by our Government because it has form in this area, particularly when one looks at how it dealt with new entrants to the nursing and teaching professions. The Minister's proposal is grossly unfair like much of the CAP debate which sees him and the farming organisations trying to justify making payments to farmers based on how they farmed at the beginning of the last decade. This is what it is all about. By staying in the time warp of 2002, larger and more established farmers will continue to draw obscene sums of money while more and more small farmers leave the land to the detriment of rural Ireland. It is not always beautiful.
Let us front load payments, put in a fairly high minimum payment in the region of what the Commission is proposing and put a limit on the maximum anyone can draw down at €35,000. If one cannot survive with a big lump of land and €35,000, one should get out of farming. This would redistribute €99 million and give the farmers on what is left behind a chance to compete on a level playing field. The alternative is that we will see a further exodus from rural Ireland. There is not much to get excited about in the economy but this is something exciting. If it is dealt with correctly, it could be the saving of rural Ireland. I plead with the Minister to think of the small farmer.