Farmers have lost lobbying power says former Minister
Farm organisations no longer wield the lobbying influence of old, former minister and Fianna Fáil stalwart Mary O'Rourke has said.
She made the comments as farmers face unprecedented pressure over the environmental impact of agriculture as well as depressed incomes in many sectors.
O'Rourke, who has been outspoken on farming matters in recent weeks, was asked recently if she thought farmers still represented a powerful lobby group.
"I don't think they do," she told the presenter on Radio Kerry.
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"There was a period when I was in the Dail and in Government and farmers had a big strong voice. I don't think they have it anymore, she said.
However, she also said people should pay regard to what small farmers are saying and what they are agitating for.
Writing in the Sunday Independent on the beef protests recently, O'Rourke said while Government cannot directly influence the price paid to the farmers, what can be done as a government is to ensure utter transparency, so that it is very clear what exactly the farmers are getting, what it is costing each farmer to produce the beef, and then what is the price they are obtaining for it.
"In a changing Europe, and in far more open markets, it is important that whatever ideas and plans the Government has are open and transparent, so that everyone can see if it is worth the while of the small farmer to continue to produce beef and to continue to put their fine products on to the market, in the light of changing consumer tastes," she said.
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