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Independent.ie

Sunday 19 November 2017

Eddie Downey: 'Farms and farmers need to be safer and healthier'

Safety conscious: Eddie Downey is campaigning for safer and healthier farms as he bids to become the new IFA president
Safety conscious: Eddie Downey is campaigning for safer and healthier farms as he bids to become the new IFA president

Eddie Downey farms 140ac of tillage, beef and a broiler breeding poultry near Slane in Co Meath. The 51-year-old is currently the IFA deputy president and Meath county chairman.

He was chairman of the farm business committee until 2007 and was co-opted back on to this committee until very recently.

He is also chairman of the IFA's farm inputs purchasing group, Buyways, and a Teagasc board member.

He points to his role negotiating with banks on behalf of farmers with credit difficulties, securing more favourable terms on leasing, Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax for partnerships, and his roles as 'the driving force' behind the IFA's fodder crisis team and as a spokesman during the horsemeat crisis as some of his key achievements to date.

His key campaign planks include:

* Fair prices. "We must insist on transparent pricing on beef, sheep, and pig and poultry meats. Milk farmers need to receive the full returns from the market place as it happens and not to experience a lag, as happened this summer," said Downey.

* Pillar II commitment from Government. "The Government must commit to fully match EU Pillar II funds.

"The exchequer gets a multiplier of 1.8 times on every euro that's invested," he said.

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* Credit. "I have already called on and engaged with the Departments of Agriculture and Finance for €250m at low interest rates from the European Investment Bank to alleviate the chronic short-term credit problem."

* Yellow card system to reduce inspection stress. "The stress of multiple inspections is unacceptable and I am working on a yellow card system that is fair and proportionate.

"Improving land access and mobility. Leasing needs to be extended and adapted so that land gets into the hands of active producers."

* Succession. "This needs to be easier and more tax-efficient to ensure that new young enthusiastic farmers have security of tenure, while giving peace of mind to retirees."

* Labelling and testing. "Cheap food imports threaten our incomes and Ireland's reputation for quality food production. We must have comprehensive labelling and DNA sourcing of all meat products."

* The multiples. "The race to the bottom threatens the livelihood of liquid milk, pig, poultry, fruit and vegetable producers.

"The length of credit being sought on perishable foods is nothing short of being corrupt and leaves producers very vulnerable."

* Farm safety and mental health. "As president, I will make it a priority to renew efforts to make our farms and farmers safer and healthier."

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