The IFA Executive Council today (Thurs) held a discussion with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the farming issues for the upcoming General Election and set out the key priorities for the Association.
IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin said the interaction between members of the Council and the Taoiseach was a valuable exercise in putting IFA’s Election submission before Enda Kenny ahead of the start of the General Election next week.
Jer Bergin acknowledged that Enda Kenny as Taoiseach had taken a close interest in farming issues, and his personal involvement had made a positive difference for farm families and the critical agri-food sector of the economy in such areas as the CAP Budget and CAP Reform, EU and national funding for the Rural Development Programme, the Climate Change negotiations and 3rd-level education grants”.
The IFA submission sets out the main policy issues to be addressed in each commodity sector and deals with important cross-sectoral issues. It also highlights the wider issues affecting farm families and rural communities in regard to rural services and infrastructure, social policy and farm safety.
Jer Bergin said the viability of family farms has been threatened by a combination of reduced national funding for farm schemes, lower CAP supports and greater exposure to volatile world markets. Farmers need to see tangible measures that address these threats, including:
- annual expenditure of €580m (national and EU) for farm schemes, including the restoration of cuts to payment rates for disadvantaged areas and €250m allocation for GLAS;
- stronger EU CAP budget and supports;
- increased supports for low-income sectors and vulnerable regions, including targeted payments of €200 per suckler cow and €20 per ewe;
- effective measures to redress the balance of power in the food supply chain and ensure fair and viable commodity prices for farmers;
- real delivery for farmers from access to new export markets;
- improved services and infrastructure for rural Ireland;
- taxation measures that improve farm profitability, promote on-farm investment and encourage young farmers;
- actions on input costs;
- robust defence of Ireland’s interests in trade policy and climate change negotiations; and
- a single authority to manage waterways and tackle flooding.
Jer Bergin said, “IFA will work to ensure that politicians and political parties establish policies that promise a real and positive impact on agriculture and rural Ireland. We expect firm commitments from all parties that they will undertake actions to support agriculture, put the sustainable and profitable growth of family farming to the fore and prioritise the rejuvenation of rural Ireland as an essential element of economic recovery.
“Crucially, when a new Government is in place, they must make good on their election promises on agriculture as an utmost priority – IFA will be holding them to account on their commitments in any Programme for Government throughout 2016 and beyond.”
During the General Election campaign, the IFA County Executives will be meeting the candidates at constituency level to discuss the agenda. At national level, IFA will be engaging with the party leaders and agriculture spokespersons. Over 250,000 farm family voters will be keenly interested in the responses from the political parties and from candidates at national and constituency level.