Protect our family farmers from retail sector whims, urges Higgins
President Michael D Higgins has called for Irish farm families to be protected at all costs from the "vagaries" of the retail sector and challenges such as Brexit.
In his public address on the first day of the National Ploughing Championships, Mr Higgins called for farm families to be supported and defended at all costs, and that the general public needs to be vigilant towards the price setting of retailers.
"I know for tillage farmers, they will see reduced yields this year, but equally if we want to sustain those family farms you cannot have a situation continue where the cost of inputs increases and the cost of outputs decrease. At European and global level we need to be able to do whatever it costs to sustain the farm family model, because it requires assistance and should be assisted," he said.
"The retail sector has responsibilities and we should not abandon producers to the vagaries of the retail sector which is heading towards conditions of monopolisation."
He added that the high health and safety standards of Irish products being exported to the UK would have to be maintained whatever the outcome of upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Mr Higgins also said his one wish for the farming sector for the coming 12 months was that it would be "free of farming accidents" which he said "must be eliminated".
He acknowledged the challenging time farmers were enduring as a result of the recent drought and fodder crisis.
The President called for more regional thinking in the EU to deal with such challenges that affected parts of the country differently.
He added that he wanted the forthcoming presidential election campaign to address "real issues" and to be "dignified".
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