Fianna Fail will unveil its range of new agricultural policies at this year’s Ploughing Championships and will form a major plank of the party’s upcoming election manifesto.

Agriland has seen the draft strategy, which shows the party’s main policy priority will be that of maintaining as many families on the land as possible.

Other priorities will include the protection of the natural environment and Ireland’s rural heritage plus the maintenance of a regional balance between town and country.

Fianna Fail believes that family farming should remain the mainstay of Irish agriculture, as opposed to corporate entities taking the lead. And all future policies should be proofed in this regard.

The policy draft indicates that, irrespective of region or land type, Fianna Fáil will act to ensure that all land types are farmed and that land abandonment will be avoided, particularly in poorer land areas.

In addition, farming must remain an attractive and profitable business in all areas and across all land types and commodities.

A further theme to the new strategy is its focus on the development of a fair CAP policy for Ireland and proportionate inspection procedures.

With the increase in the number of schemes and their complexity, party strategists believe that more and more penalties are being applied to farmers. In response to this Fianna Fail will be calling for all inspections to be pre-announced, except where fraud is suspected.

And, where genuine errors occur, or where there are simple non-compliance issues, farmers should be given a warning to address the deficiencies, it says, and would include a form of yellow card warning system.

The new policy framework will also espouse the development of a world class agri-food industry in Ireland. But this must be obtained on the back of farmers receiving fair prices.

According to the strategy, Fianna Fail remains totally opposed to cuts in the means test of the current Farm Assist Scheme, introduced by the current government.

It goes on to say that the party will act to reverse these measures, if elected at the next election. It also promises to double the number of places on the Rural Social Scheme to over 500.

The party is in favour of earlier land transfer to younger farmers, pointing out that believe that all such barriers should be totally eliminated. This will entail the development of more effective land mobility procedures.