Forestry Market Reports II

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Forestry Market Reports II

Tackling the major problem of low incomes on cattle farms must become the key livestock policy focus for the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed under Food Wise 2025, according to IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods. “Minister Creed has to change the focus of Food Wise on livestock, away from more exports for factories to fair incomes for farmers.”

The IFA Livestock leader was speaking following the submission of the Food Wise High Level Meats Group report to Minister Creed by the Chairman Michael Dowling.

Angus Woods welcomed the key issue on beef identified by all stakeholders as ‘introducing targeted support for sucklers’ in line with IFA policy. He said the Group accepted such measures, in addition to providing income support, should be clearly geared towards bringing environment and welfare quality benefits. The Group also considered the introduction of adding a welfare criterion under some form of enhanced BDGP scheme.

Angus Woods said the Food Wise group stressed that beef from the suckler herd is of ‘critical importance for the international marketability of Irish beef abroad and for the health and viability of the rural economy in large parts of the country’.  It stressed, however, that very low profitability will inevitably lead to a sharp drop in suckler output which will undermine the prospect of it making a viable contribution to the Foodwise ambitions for this sector.

The IFA Livestock leader said the Food Wise group also made some recommendations about improving the quality of dairy bred beef, genomic verification, grass fed beef and generational change.

Angus Woods said Brexit was identified as the main challenge across all the meat sectors of beef, sheep, pig meat and poultry. Brexit uncertainty should also necessitate the adoption of defensive positions in relation to EU trade deals with Mercusor, Australia and New Zealand, according to industry.  He said for sustainability at farm level, it is essential to secure beef prices above the cost of production and protect and maintain direct supports under CAP and the farm schemes.

IFA has called on Government to take the following steps in support of farming’s contribution to climate action:

  1. Establish a cross-sectoral implementation group, including IFA, to mobilise Government Departments and the State’s advisory, scientific and economic development agencies to maximise the delivery of the emissions reductions identified by Teagasc in their recent climate abatement report.
  2. Work with EU leaders to introduce a carbon tariff on all less climate efficient imports into the EU from South America and other regions to incentivise carbon efficient food production.
  3. Appoint an independent Retail Regulator to ensure farmers get a fairer share of the food supply chain, allowing them to continue to reinvest to further climate proof their farm businesses.
  4. Regarding the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions:
    1. Re-examine the climate metrics applied when calculating methane, given the short-lived behaviour of methane in the atmosphere.
    2. C02 emission reductions through natural carbon sinks, such as forests and permanent pastures, should be included in the overall measurement of the contribution of emissions from the sector.
  5. On community and farm-scale renewables:
    1. The introduction of a guaranteed feed-in tariff model.
    2. Increased grid access, at node and substation level.
    3. Crowdfunding legislation and platforms.
    4. The development of regional biomass trade and logistic centres.

IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney said, “This detailed submission to Government restates IFA’s opposition to further carbon taxes on the sector, which are directly impacting on farming’s competitiveness without reducing climate emissions. The submission also highlights the multiple and sometimes competing roles that farmers have as food, fuel and energy producers, while at the same time being required to enhance the environment and the low climate mitigating potential of the sector.”

Concluding he said, “Farmers in Ireland have a proud record as carbon efficient food producers. We can and will do more, particularly in the resource efficiency and renewables areas. However, this depends on strong Government support and a fully funded CAP to meet the increased environmental and climate requirements.”

IFA President Joe Healy has expressed his shock at the untimely death of the Vice-Chairman of the IFA National Grain Chairman George Mason over the weekend.

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IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Tom Phelan said that analysis by the Committee of co-ops’ milk prices had shown that most had failed to pass back the full value of the Ornua PPI since last May.  The Committee is seeking a commitment by co-op board members that they will hold the milk price for at least all of the winter months.

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Over 600 farmers in Hen Harrier (HH) areas under the locally led scheme should expect payments in the coming weeks.

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