Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 20 July 2017

Politicians flocking for the farm vote

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney tagging two newly-born calves on a visit to the Richardson's suckler cow, sheep and tillage farm in Tullow, Carlow. Photo: Barry Cronin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney tagging two newly-born calves on a visit to the Richardson's suckler cow, sheep and tillage farm in Tullow, Carlow. Photo: Barry Cronin
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has pledged support for the sheep sector in a form of a new scheme that could mirror the beef genomics scheme for the suckler herd.

Both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Coveney said the party would always "prioritise" agriculture, as they hit out at opposition claims that they had presided over a two-tier economic recovery.

On a visit to the Richardson sheep, suckler and tillage farm outside Tullow, Co Carlow, Fine Gael highlighted its plans to roll out a regional action plan to reduce unemployment to under 7pc in all regions.

"There will be an upcoming mid-term review of the CAP and we will, of course, be looking at opportunities to build on some of the schemes we have already been rolling out to support the beef sector, to support sheep, to support dairy, particularly given the pressures on pricing over the last 12 months," said Mr Coveney.

He said they were committing to a new sheep scheme that will be most likely similar to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), to make farmers more efficient through better breeding.

Amid criticism of the beef forum with the recent removal of the moratorium on weights above 420kg, Mr Coveney said he remained committed to continuing the forum and it was set up to talk through problems.

"But that doesn't mean it can dictate to everybody, the beef forum was built on consensus," he said, adding it had been an "important tool".

"People from outside the beef forum expect miracles from it, the beef forum does not dictate price - it can't," he said.


As the campaigning continued apace on the election trail, Mr Coveney claimed Fianna Fail had "abandoned" young farmers in government by removing installation aid without warning.

It follows Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin promising €200 a cow for the suckler sector in the form of an increased genomics payment on the first 20 cows and an increase in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments.

Two-tier recovery

"An unfair two-tier recovery has taken hold which has concentrated growth disproportionately in one location leaving the regions lagging behind," Mr Martin said as he addressed the IFA executive council.

The opposition party said it was also looking at bringing in a coupled payment of €20/ewe in the CAP review.

"The lack of action by the present government in ensuring a fair return to farmers for their product has been a common feature of this administration at home and abroad," said Mr Martin.

Mr Martin promised a food ombudsman and the protection of primary producer in national law. However, Mr Coveney hit back at the Fianna Fail leader's comments.

"When I see promises being made by Fianna Fail on the eve of an election, which aren't innovative or new thinking, which isn't about changing agriculture for the better, but simply just promising to give money to people - money that they actually don't have - on schemes that haven't been costed, within a Common Agricultural Policy that doesn't facilitate what they are proposing, well then I am very sceptical indeed," said Mr Coveney.

He added that he would be happy to be returned to agriculture if Fine Gael was returned to office.

Enda Kenny however, ruled out returning agriculture to a single portfolio if re-elected, as he stressed that he felt agriculture was a good fit with the defence and fisheries.

Indo Farming