Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

‘Food Wise 2020 needs complete review or farmers will be bankrupt’

Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the 2016 ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.
Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the 2016 ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A complete review of Food Wise 2025 is needed according to the President of the ICSA, or it “could potentially bankrupt farmers if we believe that expansion of production will make us better off.”

Speaking at the Association’s agm, he warned that expanding production is a highly risky strategy in the midst of Brexit uncertainty, dismal farm incomes and the threat of looming trade deals.

Mr Kent said in light of Brexit uncertainty and the threat of further EU trade deals following CETA farmers are simply producing too much beef.

“Basic economics tells us what happens when supply is too high for demand.”

He stressed the importance of continued tariff free trade between the UK and Ireland due to our unique ties in the agri-food sector and to the mutual benefits accruing.

He said this mutual link must be maintained in an effort to dissuade the UK from looking to South America and New Zealand for beef and sheepmeat imports which Ireland currently supplies and relies heavily on.

The president also outlined ICSA’s proposal to reduce numbers in the suckler cow herd. He said unlike others who proposed a now dismissed €200m scheme, ICSA proposes to reduce the number of suckler calves born by 20pc  for one fifth of the cost, at €40m.

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He also slammed meat sector proposals to encourage 1m extra lambs which would only collapse price. He took exception to the culture of treating farmers like uneducated peasants expected to work 90pc harder for no extra gain if Food Wise 2025 targets of increasing exports from €10bn to €19 billion are to be achieved.

Kent also questioned whether or not CAP alone can pay for climate change measures and restrictions, while he also said that simplification should mean paying farmers on time.

“EU rules which prevent thousands of farmers being paid their first instalment of their BPS every year must be changed.”

He also insisted that the UK exit from the EU must not leave a shortfall but rather be made up of EU member states making up the difference to retain current budgeting levels.

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