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IFA is this morning in SuperValu in Cashel, Co Tipperary after members discovered product labelled as ‘Argentinian strip loin steak’ for sale on the shop shelf.

IFA President Joe Healy said, “While SuperValu is claiming that the Argentinian in the title refers to the sauce, IFA is insisting that Musgraves, SuperValu’s parent company they make an immediate public statement on the matter”.

“Beef farmers are going through an incredibly difficult time and the very least we would expect is that all Irish stores would stock only Irish meat,” he said.

South Tipperary IFA Chair Erica O’Keeffe said that local farmers were shocked to find beef labelled like this in a store in Tipperary.

“There is no Bord Bia Quality Mark on the product or any other information about the source of the beef,” she said.

Speaking at this morning’s All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dublin Castle, IFA President Joe Healy reinforced the devastating impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on Ireland’s agricultural sector. He outlined the crisis that is already underway in the beef sector and restated his call for mitigation measures to be put in place as a matter of urgency.

Joe Healy, IFA President said “Farmers are already feeling the brunt of Brexit. Uncertainty and the drop in the value of sterling have contributed to a crisis in our beef and pig sector in particular. Hoping that there will a safety net at the bottom of the cliff is not enough. We are already in freefall. We need support now.”

Earlier this week IFA representatives from across the country assembled in Dublin and lobbied TD and Senators from their constituencies on the beef crisis and Brexit.

The IFA presented a detailed set of proposals including;

An EU Brexit Emergency Support Package involving a comprehensive set of market supports and direct aid for farmers from the EU Commission
EU state aid limitations on members states must be set-aside
Challenge the meat factories to immediately increase prices and prioritise the young bull kill.
Increase factory controls on trim, classification and weights.
Strong support for the live export trade to double numbers in 2019 and ensure that no further restrictions are imposed on the trade
Reward quality suckler stock with a significant price premium
Increased funding for suckler to €200 per cow
Insist on an increase in the CAP budget
Continue to resist a damaging Mercosur trade deal
Climate change recommendations which focus on the Teagasc roadmap with no carbon-based production quota

IFA President, Joe Healy welcomed Minister Doyle’s announcement today (Tues) to fund a study to be undertaken by UCD to assess the social, economic and environmental impact of afforestation in Co. Leitrim.

The carrying out of such a study had been proposed by Leitrim IFA and was adopted as policy by IFA’s National Council.

“There are often differing claims reported on the impact of afforestation”, said Mr. Healy. “But one thing that is crystal clear is that local farmers and their families in Co. Leitrim are very concerned about the impact it is having on their communities”.

“There is a real need for this study”, said Mr. Healy, “it will provide much needed information to address the concerns of rural communities, particularly in relation to the increased planting and ownership by people not living in the county.

He continued by saying her hoped that the study would help inform the debate, so it can go beyond broad claims and provide a greater understanding of the effects the expansion of the forest sector has on population, employment, incomes, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, amongst others.

An IFA delegation met with Minister Doyle in early December 2018 seeking support from the Minister to fund an independent study to assess the social, economic and environmental impact of afforestation to address the common claims and perceptions associated with the land use change.

IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Vincent Nally said that forestry is a permanent land use change, so it is very important that there is full understanding of what the shift from traditional agriculture to growing trees means for rural communities”.

“The changes that were introduced in the current programme that removed the farmer premium differential and increased the payment to non-farmers, had significantly increased the level of planting by non-farmers, as well as the negative feeling towards forestry”, said Mr. Nally.

He said that by evaluating the impacts and the common perceptions around forestry in the study, he hoped that it would help to propose changes to improve forest policy and mitigate the adverse impacts for those living in rural Ireland.

Leitrim IFA Chairman James Gallagher welcomed the announcement.

“We need an objective assessment of the impact of forestry in Leitrim”, said Mr. Gallagher. “There are real and genuine concerns about the impact the level of afforestation is having on farming and the wider community”.

Áine Ní Dhubhain, Associate Professor with the School of Agriculture and Food Science in UCD has been appointed to oversee the study. Ms Ní Dhubhain research expertise is in socio-economic impact of forestry, forest policy and farm forestry.

IFA President Joe Healy welcomed the partnership investment being made by Glanbia with Royal A-ware as a positive step to diversify milk processing away from Cheddar Cheese in the context of the current Brexit uncertainty. “I am sure Glanbia suppliers will welcome the fact that the product mix on which their remuneration is based is being made less dependent on the UK market,” Mr Healy said.

IFA Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan said for Glanbia suppliers and all Ireland’s dairy farmers, it was crucial that more value be added to their milk, leveraging fully farmers’ hard work on sustainability.

“Diversifying away from the UK market is important, but adding more value to milk in the process is absolutely crucial. Our industry must now put more emphasis on adding value than volume,” Mr Phelan concluded.

Commenting on the latest Teagasc National Fodder Survey which shows a deficit of three million tonnes, IFA President Joe Healy said it is clear that farmers will need more help to close this gap. 

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