The new edition of the Food Wise 2025 plan must have a greater focus on how to deliver more sustainable farm incomes, according to Brian Rushe.

Rushe, a deputy presidential candidate in the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) elections, and Kildare / West Wicklow chairman for the organisation, was commenting on the consultation process currently ongoing to develop the new Food Wise 2025 plan.

Giving his views, the candidate said that the new plan “must deliver where previous plans failed”.

“I fully support the creation of a new roadmap for our sector,” he said.

However, Food Wise 2025 and Food Harvest 2020 have both delivered success – but not for the most important people in the chain; the farmer.

“Our processors and exporters would be nothing without farmers – yet our sustainability and our viability as farmers has never been under greater threat.”

The chairman added that “expansion for expansion’s sake” is no way to secure the future for both farming incomes and the agricultural sector, stressing that any new plan must “place farm family incomes at the heart of it”.

“Unlike Food Wise or Food Harvest, family farms must not be treated as an afterthought – farmers must be at the centre of the new plan,” he said.

“It is not just about producing more. We cannot and must not commoditise the quality of what we produce just to expand the profits of the processors here.

Our farmers are jumping hurdles higher than any other farmer in the world to produce high-quality, sustainable and traceable food. However, there is no sustainability without income sustainability.

“I am demanding Minister [for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael] Creed to keep this message central in all aspects of this new food strategy,” Rushe concluded.