Sinn Féin is committed to placing the family farm model at the heart of Ireland's future agriculture sector.
We need a long-term strategy that provides greater control to local producers and away from the big processors. We need to tackle the pricing models in the beef sector. We need to reform CAP to ensure more equitable funding, and we need to create new income streams for farmers in areas such as renewable energy.
Consecutive governments have failed to develop a long-term strategy for family farms, and rural communities have suffered as a result.
Sinn Féin would establish a commission on the future of the family farm to revitalise the model based upon ensuring a fair price for producers, greater bargaining power and access to new income streams.
The beef sector is rife with unfair trading practices and a lack of fair competition. Consecutive governments have allowed the processing sector to become highly concentrated, forcing farmers to accept low prices.
Many farmers who protested last year chose to engage with Sinn Féin as they felt Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil failed to address their concerns, and our party will continue to fight their corner.
To strengthen farmers' bargaining power, Sinn Féin will progress our Beef Price Transparency Bill 2019. We will prohibit below-cost selling and we will investigate alleged cartel-like behaviour.
Our Dáil motion, which passed last July, commits the new government to work with others in Europe to reject the Mercosur deal on beef imports from South America.
There must be no cut to the overall CAP budget for Ireland. The budget must be increased, and payments rebalanced towards low-and-middle income farms.
Factory feedlots should be excluded from receiving payments. We need to move towards a more equitable allocation of basic payments with an upper limit of €60,000.
Farmers should be rewarded for protecting hedgerows and other sources of carbon sequestration that also enhance biodiversity. We will ensure CAP eco-schemes are open to all farmers, and we would prohibit GMO crops in Ireland.
New income streams must be part of any new strategy. Farmers have a crucial role to play in the development of renewable energy (biogas, biomass and solar). We need to start developing these sectors through co-operatives.
We need a new on-farm agri-forestry strategy where farmers can plant alongside their tillage and livestock activities, and young farmers can enter into 15-30-year forestry schemes.
Positive measures like these can be pursued rather than increasing carbon taxes. Sinn Féin did not support the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Green proposal to increase the carbon tax for these reasons. Carbon taxes will not help solve the climate crisis until alternatives like biofuels, broadband and renewable energy are available to rural Ireland.
And among other measures it has been our policy for many years to increase the self-employed (farmers') tax credit to €1,650 to bring it in line with PAYE workers.
Sinn Féin is committed to revitalising rural Ireland and giving control back to local producers.
We want to have a sustainable agriculture sector based upon new incomes sources, increased value and the family farm model.
Brian Stanley is a Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly and the party's spokesperson on agriculture