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IFA in Brussels
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IFA President Joe Healy said that the Teagasc Annual Review figures released today come as no surprise to anyone involved in farming. He said that the report confirms that 2018 was an extremely difficult year for farming, in large part due to unprecedented weather conditions. The knock-on effects of this, such as the increased cost of fuel inputs and an increase in feed use per head eroded margins on Irish farms. He said that while the report expected some recovery in 2019, this is very much dependent on factors outside of farmers’ control.

The IFA President said that it was more critical than ever for Government to step-up and provide certainty to a sector that employs over 300,000 people directly and indirectly. He said, “Farming, like any other large sector needs a certain level of certainty. While factors such as the weather are beyond our control, there are other ways that farming and the agriculture sector can be protected. Average farm incomes are 40% of average earnings in other sectors across the EU. On cattle rearing and sheep farms, direct payments account for up to 115% of average farm income. These direct payments must be maintained, at a minimum.

“The medium-term outlook for agriculture is very uncertain, not least as a result of policy and trade issues stemming from Brexit. 2019 is a critical year, given the decisions that will be made on CAP post-2020. Farmers need an increase in the CAP Budget to at least keep pace with inflation and to support farmers, in order to provide some small level of security, ” he said.

February 2020

IFA’s Liam MacHale met with Kwame Ofori Tenkorang, Managing Director of Global Consulate for Trade and Investment Ltd in Ghana who was joined by Ghana farmers Philip Thompson and Frank Owusu Gyau to discuss agriculture practices in Ireland in livestock, cereals, poultry and aquaculture sectors


Liam McHale, IFA Brussells and Charlie Doehrty at the Donegal IFA AGM in the Clanree Hotel on Tuesday night last. Photo Clive Wasson

Liam Mchale, IFA Brussells speaking at at the Donegal IFA AGM in the Clanree Hotel on Tuesday night last. Photo Clive Wasson

Adrian Gallagher, Secretary, David Brown, Ulsters Farmers Union, Brendan Mclaughlin, Donegal IFA Chairman, Liam MacHale, IFA Brussells and Turlough Slaney, IFA Development Officer at the Donegal IFA AGM in the Clanree Hotel on Tuesday night last. Photo Clive Wasson

Liam MacHale, IFA Brussells presenting Patrick Kelly with Honorary Life Membership at the Donegal IFA AGM in the Clanree Hotel on Tuesday night last. Also included are Patrick Kelly, Jnr. and Brendan McLaughlin, IFA Chairman. Photo Clive Wasson

April 2019

IFA President Joe Healy with Jaroslaw Swierczina and Stefano Soro from DG Grow following discussion on the High Level Forum and increased transparency in the Food Supply Chain at today’s COPA Working Group Food Chain meeting.

Liam MacHale with Brendan Smith TD at Committee meeting on Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament

IFA’s Niamh Brennan attending the Copa-Cogeca Working Party meeting on Fruits and Vegetables today in Brussels.

IFA President Joe Healy with Franz Reisecker, Austrian Chamber of Agriculture Vice-President, following meeting to discuss CAP and Brexit.

IFA President Joe Healy with Shane Barrett, Michel Barnier, Mairead McGuinnness President in EP following Brexit discussion at the Foreign Affairs Committee

IFA President Joe Healy and Liam MacHale discussing the outcome of the Agriculture Committee vote on the CAP Strategic Plans Proposal with MEP Mairead McGuinness today in the European Parliament.

Liam MacHale and John Bryan with Mr Robert Zīle, MEP Latvia, and Latvian, Ukrainian and Estonian colleagues from the European Economic and Social Committee following discussion on CAP.

February 2019

IFA’s Gerry Gunning outlined the numerous environmental schemes already being participated in by Irish Farmers at today’s COPA Working Group on Rural Development in Brussels.

IFA’s Catherine Lascurettes presents on Irish Dairy Sustainability to the COPA working group on Milk and dairy products today in Brussels.

IFA’s Liam MacHale with Commissioner Hogan and John Bryan from the European Economic and Social Committee following the Commissioner’s address to the EESC Plenary on CAP.

John Coughlan, Input Project team leader, Fintan Conway, Renewables and Bioeconomy Executive, Tom Short, Renewables Project Team leader, with Barthelemy Lanos, Carl-Johan Linden and Fabian Santini, DG Agri Markets and Observatories, following meeting on Transparency of EU Fertilisers Market.

John Coughlan, Input Project team leader, Fintan Conway, Renewables and Bioeconomy Executive, Tom Short, Renewables Project Team leader, with Nicola Di Virgilio and Dan Burgar Kuželički, DG Agri, following meeting on EU Vision for Clean Planet.

John Coughlan, Input Project team leader, Fintan Conway, Renewables and Bioeconomy Executive, Tom Short, Renewables Project Team leader, with Valeria Forlin and Fabian Ramos, DG Clima, following meeting on Climate Action and Renewable Energy for Agriculture Sector.

IFA President Joe Healy met yesterday with Mr. Claudiu Sorin Roşu Mareş, Secretary of State at Romanian Ministry of Agriculture who discussed Agriculture priorities of Romania who currently hold the EU Presidency

IFA President Joe Healy underlined the need for Europe to promote benefits of CAP to Europe’s citizens and not just farmers at today’s COPA Praesidium with Claudiu Sorin Roşu Mareş, Ministry of Agriculture Romania

IFA President and Vice President of COPA Joe Healy, with fellow COPA Vice Presidents from France, Austria, Poland and Denmark at COPA Presidency meeting today in Brussels.

IFA President Joe Healy with Juha Marttila President of Finnish Farmers Association MTK discussing EU response to impact of Brexit and the current Commission investigation into Anti Dumping measures in EU fertiliser sector.

IFA President Joe Healy conducting an interview this morning, 14th February, with Rose O’Donovan, AGRAFACT, discussing Brexit, CAP and climate change.

January 2019

IFA’s John Coughlan and Fintan Conway with Rosemary O’Brien, CF Industries, Dominique Dejonckheere, COPA COGECA, and Nicolas Ferenczi, AGPB France, following meeting on UAN Anti Dumping measures investigation.

John Coughlan IFA Inputs Project Team Leader attending meeting with Rosemary O’Brien CF Industries who requested COPA COGECA support against anti dumping measures on UAN fertiliser.

John Coughlan, IFA Inputs Project Team Leader and Fintan Conway met Mr Iulian Tanase from Romanian Permanent Representation Trade Defence section to discuss issues with antidumping measures in EU fertiliser market.

Liam MacHale with Lene Naesager DG Agri Head of Communications following discussions at COPA re programme  of increased dialogue by DG Agri with farmers in rural areas across Member States.

December 2018

Andy Boylan IFA National Poultry Chairman attended COPA working group meeting on Eggs and Poultry on the 13th December in preparation for Friday the 14th’s Civil Dialogue meeting with the European Commission.

Liam MacHale with Mr. Achim Irimescu Head of Unit for CAP, MFF, Trade and UTPs at Romanian Permanent Representation following discussions on Agriculture priorities for Romanian Presidency of EU from Jan 1st 2019 today in Brussels.

IFA’s Liam MacHale and Mr Jean Pierre Fleury from FNSEA and Chairman of COPA Beef Working Party following meeting with Matthew Hudson DG Sante to discuss issues surrounding report on EU Commission Chief Vets Audit of Brazil Beef sector.

Liam MacHale with Mr. Hiromichi Matsushima Japan Vice Minister for International Affairs following discussion on benefits of EU Trade Agreement with Japan at Agriculture Outlook Conference in Brussels

IFA President Joe Healy today briefed members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food & the Marine of the Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) used by retailers in their dealings with producers.  He outlined the draft EU Directive on this area and urged Government to adopt its recommendations, as soon as it is enacted.

“The 2017 CAP Consultation showed that 97% of EU consumers are in favour of the farmer getting a better share of the retail price. Irish farmers produce some of the best food in the world and what we are seeking in return, is a fair price, nothing more and nothing less. The retailer gets 51% of the final price, the processor gets 28%, but the farmer only gets 21%.”

He said that a strong independent retail regulator is urgently needed to protect producers against UTPs. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) currently holds this role.

“The single biggest issue for farmers is that they have no confidence in the CCPC to enforce the regulation as it stands. Everyday examples of UTPs are late payments, cancellation at short notice of perishable food product order and changing terms of a contract without any notice. This is going on all the time and the CCPC is just sitting on its hands,” he said.

He noted that in September, the CCPC announced that it was about to start inspections in the grocery sector to ensure traders are complying with their obligations and said that while welcome, it should have happened much sooner.

“These regulations were introduced in April 2016, and most farmers either supplying the retailers directly or indirectly through a wholesaler, have no contracts. This is a blatant breach of the Regulations and the CCPC have been invisible in the policing and enforcing of them,” he said.

In Ireland, the three biggest retailers – Tesco, Supervalu / Centra and Dunnes control 70% market share, while five retailers – adding Aldi and Lidl – bring this to 94%. Across Europe, there is evidence that retailers who dominate the market to this extent abuse their market power to drive prices to the floor, in some cases to below the cost of production.

Joe Healy said, “The establishment by the Government of a visible and active independent Retail Regulator would give confidence to farmers that their complaints would be taken seriously and pursued. The proposed Directive holds up the UK model as best practice, and this is the model that IFA wants the Irish Government to follow”.

Speaking at the ASA Conference today (Fri) during a discussion on The Challenges in the Global Marketplace for Beef, IFA President Joe Healy warned that suckler farming is now on a cliff edge, due to EU agricultural policy which is asking farmers to produce beef at low prices while reducing direct payments and insisting on ever higher standards.

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IFA is seeking to recruit an Executive Assistant for its European Affairs Brussels office, reporting to the Director of the office.

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