Fermoy seminar told 2018 will be a 'defining year' for Irish agriculture
Impact of Brexit, CAP reform, trade deals and climate change discussed at seminar
"This year will be a defining one for Irish agriculture."
That was the message from IFA president Joe Healy to the more than 400 farmers and industry stakeholders who attended a recent seminar organised by the AIB at the Corrin Marts Events Centre in Fermoy.
The Corkman reports that issues of Brexit, CAP reform, trade deals and climate change were high on the agenda at the meeting, which was also addressed by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe and AIB agri advisor Tadgh Buckley.
Mr Healy said each of the of the four issues individually had the potential to influence the sustainability and structural make-up of the industry and that "collective, holistic thinking and swift action" was needed at all levels of the food-chain to ensure the needs of Irish farmers were met.
"Nowhere is this more required than in meeting our climate change targets," said Mr Healy, who pointed out that Irish farmers were among the most carbon efficient dairy and beef producers in Europe.
"We have done a lot to meet the climate change targets with initiatives such as the SMART farming initiative but we can do more," he said. He went on to warn of the dangers of a Mercusor deal replacing carbon-efficient production with beef from South America, pointing out that "producing a kilo of beef in Brazil leaves four times the carbon footprint of a kilo of beef produced in Ireland".
Minister Creed suggested CAP had delivered affordable food to consumers, but post 2020, there will likely be a greater focus on the sustainability agenda and a strong environmental focus.
He said there was no upside to Brexit, and that Ireland would like the transitional arrangement to last as "long as possible" and that it would be "preferable" to maintain the status quo. However, Minister Creed did challenge the sustainability of focusing too much on the UK market.