Following today’s launch of Food Wise 2025, IFA President Eddie Downey said for the new agri-strategy to succeed, farmers will have to be properly rewarded for their work and investment. “The report identifies what farmers have to do, but does not place any onus on Government and other stakeholders to deliver a fair return to primary producers. This needs to be addressed if the ambitious targets are to be achieved.”
Eddie Downey identified strong funding for farm schemes supporting income, farm investment, improved efficiency and agri-environmental measures as a priority in Budget 2016. “This funding is critical if the delivery of the ambitious growth targets of the agri-food sector outlined in the new 10-year strategy are to be realised.”
He said, “Foodwise 2025 targets growth in the value of primary agricultural output of 65% over the next decade, leading to agri-food exports of €19bn by 2025. This will depend on famers increasing output of high-value, sustainably-produced food, but it has to be economically viable”.
Eddie Downey said in October’s budget, the Government’s funding commitment to the farming sector, through the new Rural Development programme, will have to be delivered. This must include targeted support for the low-income cattle and sheep sectors, on-farm investment programmes and knowledge transfer across all sectors, and the reversal of funding cuts imposed on farmers in marginal areas. In addition, funding for 50,000 for the GLAS agri-environment scheme in 2016 will have to be made available.
He continued, “The new strategy identifies the risks posed to primary producers arising from price and income volatility. Measures to tackle volatility will have to be further developed, within the taxation system, from the banking sector and at industry level. Processors and retailers will have to underpin the economic viability of its supply base by returning a fair price and operating fair trading conditions through contracts”.
He concluded, “Irish farmers continue to actively participate in schemes and initiatives that are delivering a higher value, differentiated, and sustainably produced product. The delivery of a premium in the market for this product must be an ongoing target for the agri-food industry over the next decade, with the benefits returned to all stakeholders in the supply chain”.