TWO key figures in Irish agriculture, who are both settling in to their new roles, met this week to discuss and prioritise issues that affect farmers.
Following his first meeting with the new Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, IFA president Joe Healy said he had raised the serious income pressures in all sectors with the Minister. He said government and the EU Commission in Brussels must take measures to assist farmers through the current difficulties.
Mr Healy said: ‘I look forward to working with Minister Creed on a range of issues and raised the following as those that require urgent priority:
· Immediate approval of the 5,000 farmers who have applied for tranches 1 and 2 of TAMs;
· EU approval for inclusion of sheep fencing and tillage measures in TAMs to allow farmers in those sectors to enter the scheme in the current tranche;
· Measures by Government under EU €15,000 state aid concession to address urgent cashflow issues including the suspension of superlevy repayments while milk prices remain below the cost of production and the conversion of merchant credit in all sectors;
· Absolute vigilance against any concessions on beef imports in the Mercosur negotiations at any stage;
· Complete removal of fertiliser import tariffs in order to bring down production costs for Irish and EU producers.
On the new Government’s programme, Joe Healy welcomed the commitment to €25m for a new sheep scheme and said it followed a strong campaign by IFA for support for sheep farmers. He said the increase for ANCS has to be brought forward into Budget 2017. The IFA president made a strong case to the Minister for the re-opening of BDGP to applicants this year as it is an important support for our suckler cow herd.
Meanwhile, on climate change, IFA met the EU Commissioner Canete and the message was that Ireland’s carbon efficient model of food production must not be jeopardised in agreeing binding targets for each Member State, to be delivered by 2030. Joe Healy also raised the problems with TB and the need to establish a pilot area to deal with disease spread through deer.