Credible Agri-strategy Must Focus on Farm Profitability – Downey

IFA President Eddie Downey has said that the development of a new strategy for the agri-food sector will only be credible if the focus is firmly on delivering farm profitability.

Eddie Downey was speaking in advance of the first meeting of the 2025 Agri-Food Strategy Committee, which takes place today. “While Food Harvest 2020 is delivering on the targets of increased output value, employment growth and export earnings, there has been very little progress made in strengthening the overall viability and profitability of the primary agriculture sector, which underpins the entire agri-food industry”.

He continued, “IFA is clear that a new focus is required and that a successful strategy for the agri-food sector for 2025 must put the sustainable growth of the primary agriculture sector at its core. This can be measured through an increase in farm profitability, an improvement in farm efficiency and the measurement and delivery of increasingly sustainable food production”.

Mr Downey said, “Farm profitability will require both on-farm actions and external measures delivered through the industry and by policymakers. While farmers will play their part through increasing the competitiveness of their food production, it is essential that other stakeholders in the agri-food industry are required to take responsibility for delivering measures that will underpin the long-term sustainability of the primary agriculture sector. This must include increased price transparency across the food supply chain, greater bargaining powers for primary producers, and real actions to tackle input costs.

In addition, there must be a renewed focus on not just increasing sustainability, but also successfully marketing this competitive advantage to deliver a premium throughout the supply chain for Irish products and ingredients”.

Mr Downey concluded, “The importance of Direct Payments in underpinning farm incomes and production, and as an important counter-measure to volatility must also be recognised. A significant contribution to the income difficulties in farming in recent years has been the fall in Direct Payments since 2008, particularly from the Rural Development Programme. The new strategy must target the full utilisation of available EU and national funding for the sector, and the development of a coherent policy to support the retention of maximum funding in future CAP reforms”.

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