Beef and tillage farmers claim 'sustainability platform' plan won't deliver on prices
Bord Bia's proposed Farm Sustainability Platform will add nothing to beef and tillage farmer incomes, farm organisations have claimed.
ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham said farmers will not co-operate with the initiative until beef prices get back up to a viable level of over €4/kg.
Reports of a farm climate credit scheme as part of the Bord Bia initiative would mean more bureaucracy for farmers without any extra income, he said.
And the Irish Grain Growers (IGG) group claimed that the initiative will not lift tillage farmers' incomes unless climate credits are granted for the use of native Irish grains and pulses in the livestock sector.
IGG stated that a credible climate change scheme cannot continue to endorse the use of "cheap, imported, high-carbon-footprint GMO feed from environmentally destructive countries that also use crop protection chemicals that are banned by the EU".
In addition, IGG took issue with Bord Bia assurances that the initiative would be voluntary. "A similar approach was applied to the SHAS (Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme) and this cost growers substantial money. There was no gain to growers from this SHAS but if you did not have Origin Green and Q mark you went out of business."
Claiming that tillage produced 17 times less GHG per acre than dairy and eight times less than beef, IGG asked why Bord Bia did not consider promoting Irish grain to help reach the state's climate change targets of reducing carbon emissions by 10pc or 2m tonnes by 2030.
ICMSA has also called for more clarity on the Bord Bia proposals.
However, Bord Bia stressed that the platform is just in the "early stages of development" and it was not intended to change or replace the current Quality Assurance Scheme.
"There are numerous national and regional programmes operating at farm level in Ireland and the proposed platform would be used as a centralised hub to record the scale of participation in these programmes," Bord Bia said.
"The platform also could help to identify opportunities or vulnerabilities in areas of environmental importance on different types of farms and support the achievement of the targets laid out in the Climate Action Plan."
The food marketing body said the platform will "support the reputation of Ireland as a sustainable food producing nation by building robust proof points".
Bord Bia stressed that use of the Farm Sustainability Platform would be voluntary, "with no cost implication for participation or penalty for those who chose not to use the platform", and that it will be engaging with stakeholders "at all further stages".