16 farming issues ICMSA wants you to raise with canvassing politicians

ICMSA insists that farmer vote cannot ‘be taken for granted’ and says systemic problems in farming and rural decline must be confronted.

Its President John Comer, has said that his organisation is determined to put the present situation of Irish farming ‘front and centre’ of the General Election debate and he added that no party or parties should think that the farm vote can be taken for granted.

“Irish milk suppliers are now facing into 2016 and an upcoming peak production period where they continue to receive a price for their milk that is less than it cost to produce. It is delusional for anyone to think that we can go on like this approaching the first anniversary of quota abolition and with milk suppliers effectively producing milk for nothing.”

The ICMSA President said his association was now estimating that income to milk suppliers would fall by around €800m in the two years following 2014 resulting in a knock-on loss to the wider rural economy of conservatively €1.36 billion.

The ICMSA President said his association had identified 16 farming and rural-related issues on which candidates seeking farm votes should be able to comment and formulate opinions.

Comer said that farmers must support candidates who, in turn, will support the farming community in the struggle to win fair prices from gigantic food retail corporations.

Some of the key issues include milk price instability and volatility; ongoing flooding issues; competition in the beef processing sector; high input prices; farm safety and rural crime.

  1. Dairy – ICMSA says milk price, volatility and contracts must all be addressed with an increased intervention price and a taxation system that allows farmers plan better.
  2. Beef and Sheep – The Limerick-based association says a lack of competition and transparency at processor level is adding to ongoing lack of profitability at farmer level.
  3. Input costs – ICMSA says Irish farmers must deal with high input levels which must be monitored.
  4. Global trade – Irish farmers produce to the highest levels and international trade deals should not undermine Irish standard.
  5. Food prices and retail power – ICMSA says that the margins in the supply chain must be looked at and farmers returned a fair price.
  6. Farm taxation and social welfare – Farm families are being discriminated under the current taxation system, ICMSA says.
  7. Farm Finance – Access to credit for farm families ICMSA says must be addressed and financial instruments to provide lower cost credit to farmers must be implemented.
  8. Animal Health & Veterinary Medicines – ICMSA says issues such as TB, BVD and IBR must be addressed with the interests of farmers in mind.
  9. Basic Payment Scheme – Ongoing defence of the CAP Budget it says is necessary, while the Farmers Charter must be delivered in full.
  10. Farm Schemes – ICMSA says that a number of farming schemes, including GLAS, must be properly funded.
  11. Farm Safety – Farm safety schemes must be adequately funded.
  12. Nitrates Policy – Restrictions are stopping farmers ensuring they have sufficient nutrient levels in soils.
  13. Climate Change – With increasing food demand worldwide, ICMSA says carbon restrictions on Irish farmers who are carbon efficient would not make sense.
  14. Rural Development Issues – ICMSA says that ongoing rural issues including a lack of broadband and poor roads must be addressed.
  15. Rural Crime – Increased Garda resources are needed to tackle rural crime.
  16. Flooding – A single State agency it says is needed to address ongoing flooding problems.