Kerry farmers react to decoupling

There is mixed reaction amongst farmers in the county as the Minister for Food and Agriculture Joe Walsh is announcing his decision that all direct payments for cattle, sheep, and arable crops will be fully decoupled from January 1 2005. The minister is stating that full decoupling of direct payments for 2003 has already commenced and that payment of 439 million euro is now being issued to 70,000 farmers nationwide. The advance payments are at the rate of 80% of premium in respect of bovine schemes while 100% payments are issuing in respect of ewe premium. The minister is stating that he has based his final decision in the best interests of Irish agriculture and the development of a sustainable, market orientated agri-food sector. Flor McCarthy county chairman of the IFA in Kerry believes that the implementation of decoupling is a good move.