Irish Growers Upset With Government Charges

Published online: Feb 22, 2005
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Irish Farmers' Association members are refusing to cooperate with a Department of Agriculture review of spending on potato programs.

The Association's Potato Committee is irate over proposed seed test charges and official label charges that came out of the review.

Ag Minister Mary Coughlan said the proposed fees related to field charges only and did not in any way cover the cost of providing the seed certification service.

"Apart from the recovery of costs, an important element of these charges is the need to bring commercial focus to the area of seed production," she said.

But Association Potato Committee Chairman John Sheridan said the Irish seed potato industry was in severe crisis and growers were not prepared to cooperate with the expenditure review because it offered little to growers.

"There is a great unease and uncertainty in the Irish seed potato sector at present," Sheridan said. "Farm gate returns are below the cost of production and many growers are questioning their continuation in the sector."

Sheridan said the tonnage of Irish certified seed has declined by almost 30 percent since 2001 and this was a trend set to continue.