Fianna Fáil commits to ‘fair price for farmers’ in manifesto

Fianna Fáil has committed to “ensuring a fair price for farmers” if it gets into Government, after the party launched its 2020 General Election manifesto, today, Friday, January 24.

Fianna Fáil says that it “will deliver policies that will protect the 137,500 family farms across the country and secure a fair price for the primary producer”.

The manifesto also said that the party will “protect Ireland’s interest in the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] negotiations… and develop new market opportunities”.

In terms of the beef sector, Fianna Fáil has committed to reforming and simplifying the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and ensuring a €200/head payment on the first 20 cows. The approximate cost of this measure, the manifesto states, will be €46 million in additional funding.

It also says that, under a Fianna Fáil Government, the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme would “remain a permanent suckler support scheme” – and that the party would “work to ensure that processors and supermarkets pay proper prices for quality Irish beef”.

Moreover, Fianna Fáil said it would support the establishment of producer organisations for beef; seek EU protected geographical indication (PGI) status for Irish grass-fed beef, and continue to develop live exports.

On the dairy sector, the party said it would “continue adding value” to dairy products, while on the sheep sector, the party said it would support the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

For the tillage, organic and horticulture sectors, Fianna Fáil said it will “set ambitious targets” to bring new land into organic production, and to seek more funding for organic schemes in the next Rural Development Programme.

CAP

On CAP, Fianna Fáil outlined the following points:

  • Working with European colleagues to “ensure a fully funded, fair, and simpler CAP that safeguards direct payments”;
  • Negotiating for a “fair income” for farmers in the new CAP post-2020;
  • Securing national ceilings at EU level on individual CAP payments, and restrict them to €60,000 in Ireland;
  • Introducing a complementary redistributive income support for smaller and medium-sized farms in the next CAP;
  • Ensuring the next CAP accommodates Ireland’s 3,500 “Forgotten Farmers” – which the manifesto defines as farmers under 40 years, who commenced prior to 2008;
  • Establish an independent agriculture appeals review panel in legislation that will have farmer representation.

As already publicly announced by the party, it has committed to establishing a national food ombudsman who would be tasked with capturing price and market data, and making regular reports regarding the food supply chain.

The manifesto also outlines a commitment to increasing the resources in Department of Agriculture in terms of opening access to foreign markets for Irish agri-food products.

On the Area of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme, Fianna Fáil has pledged an additional €50 million above 2020 levels, and to enhance biodiversity management by restoring the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Farm Plan Scheme.

Other key points of the Fianna Fáil manifesto include:

  • Expanding Farm Assist means testing rules to disregard the first €3,000 of income and means testing the remainder at 50%, at a cost of €18 million annually;
  • Ensuring the Climate Action Fund is targeted to help prepare the sector for Ireland’s transition to a low carbon economy;
  • Working with Teagasc to identify further measures regarding carbon abatement potential over the decade ahead for the agriculture sector;
  • Reducing ammonia emissions by introducing 100% capital allowances for the uptake of 1,500 units of low-emission slurry spreading equipment annually by farmers over a four-year period. This measure will cost €3.4 million;
  • Drawing up a national strategy for anaerobic digestion (AD) and the agricultural sector to exploit the full potential of biogas production and the bioeconomy in rural Ireland;
  • Doubling animal welfare funding by €3 million for bodies and charities, annually provided by the Department of Agriculture.

Finally, in terms of forestry, Fianna Fáil says that it will work at EU level to get hedgerows recognised as a carbon sink, and that it will work to see that the next CAP prioritises and incentivises planting trees on farms.

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