AROUND 25 administration staff in the Department of Agricultureâ€™s regional office are to be switched to the Revenue section in Sarsfield House.
The admin staff in the district veterinary office (DVO) in Raheen deal with queries on the huge amount of paperwork that farmers have to deal with it, as well as backing up veterinary inspectors and technical staff.
June Danaher, one of the workers affected and CPSU union rep, said when they were told the news last Friday it was a â€œbitter pill to swallowâ€.
The staff expect to be dealing with the property tax in their new roles.
â€œInstead of helping farmers, now we will be haunting them and everybody else for money,â€ said Ms Danaher, who added that some of the staff have worked in the DVO for upto 40 years.
â€œWe have a great relationship with the farmers. Some of them only deal with one staff member and they go back years. The local service to the farmer is gone,â€ said Ms Danaher, who said there wasnâ€™t an option to take early redundancy, or work in another DVO. She says they were told they would be moving in six to eight weeks.
In future, Limerick and Clare farmers will have to contact Naas, where the service is being centralised, with their queries.
Eddie Scanlan, Limerick IFA chairman, said it is going to be a huge loss to Limerick farmers.
â€œIf a farmer had a clerical issue that needed to be rectified the staff were very helpful. You could go in there and get your problem solved.
â€œIt is a retrograde step. There need to be some level of walk in service for older farmers. How in the name of God are they going to deal with Naas? Are the powers that be going to push older farmers out by stealth,â€ said Mr Scanlan.
Limerick ICMSA chairman, Michael Lenihan, said a lamentable pattern was now firmly established where the range of services being offered rural dwellers were being systematically withdrawn.
â€œWe see an unending series of announcements setting out the closures of post offices, small schools, garda stations, banks, and now even designated DVOs that enabled farmers to get on-the-spot advice from officials who knew the locality and the farm families involved.
â€œIt seems as if rural dwellers - and farmers, in particular â€“ are regarded as somehow being â€˜a burdenâ€™ on the state and this is then used as a justification for this ongoing policy of cutting off services in a way that drastically increases the costs of living in rural areas and passes those increased costs back fully onto the people living in rural districts,â€ said Mr Lenihan.
It is not known where the vets will be based and how they will do their jobs without admin istrative support.